Balancing the criticism….

The F-35 will cost significantly less than you think

BY GEORGE ALLISON MARCH 25, 2015

The F-35 programme is often labelled a “trillion-dollar black hole”, the man in charge of the project vehemently disagrees and lays to rest any fears over rising costs.

An F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter test aircraft banks over the flightline at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., April 23, sending contrails streaming off the wings. The aircraft is the first F-35 to visit the base which will be the future home of the JSF training facility. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Julianne Showalter)

Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, the head of the F-35 joint program office, hosted a press event with reporters in defence of the programme, citing constant drops in the cost of the jet.

“It is a fact this program is over budget from 2001’s baseline. It’s just true. We will never underrun that number. We will never save that money. It’s gone. What matters is since that time, what’s happened to the cost on the program? It’s gone down, not gone up. Judge the program today, not where it’s been, but where it is and where it’s going.”

Bogdan also pointed out that this year’s selected acquisition report (SAR) noted reducing procurement costs, down by $3 billion. The report can be found here if you wish to verify this information.

The average cost-per-unit in low-rate initial production lots six, seven and eight, the last three lots on contract, have fallen. The below figures also include engines and adjust for inflation.

The F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) commented:

“Affordability is the number one priority for the F-35 program and this year’s report reflects another year with significant cost reductions and we’re not stopping there.  We will continue to drive costs out of the program. The F-35 Joint Program Office has a disciplined approach to analyzing and reducing sustainment costs. Ongoing activities include conducting a sustainment business case analysis and operating a cost war room to find program savings and attack operational, sustainment and total ownership costs.

F-35 unit recurring flyaway costs have been going down with each successive lot of aircraft. Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney have track records for delivering the airframe and engine below government SAR estimates and we expect this trend to continue in the future.”

Lorraine Martin, General Manager for the F-35 programme commented on the SAR:

“We are extremely pleased with the nearly $60 billion decrease in Operations and Support costs of the F-35 program during the last year alone.  This is a result of a laser focus by the entire government and contractor team on reducing costs across the board whether it’s improving quality in manufacturing, increasing supply chain delivery speed, and dramatically reducing concurrency items.  We aren’t stopping here, we have numerous initiatives in place, including the Blueprint for Affordability, that will drive program costs even lower allowing us to provide our warfighters a 5th Generation F-35 jet at a 4th Generation price by the end of the decade.”

The bottom line is that overall programme costs have gone down and continue to massively decrease annually.

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11 RESPONSES

Comments11Pingbacks0

Jon Bradburn

 March 25, 2015 at 19:06

Why are they delaying fitting of the engines

Reply

Simon Taylor

 March 25, 2015 at 21:53

F-35 will be significantly less capable than you think!

Reply

Graham Keith Todd

 March 26, 2015 at 06:57

oh only 3 times what you budgeted for then?

Reply

UK Defence Journal

 March 26, 2015 at 06:58

No Graham, that’s not very funny.

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Graham Keith Todd

 March 26, 2015 at 07:02

your right it’s not funny but sadly it’s DAMN WELL TRUE! the plane is over 4 years late,the prototype keep ending up pancaking in the US and even the US air force has not taken them on STRENGTH yet! and as for the VTOL F-35 where the hell is THAT? (still under development is not an acceptable answer)we have two Queen Elisabeth class air craft carriers that have NO PLANES! this is going the way of all the “great ideas” from the US…(F1-11 ring any bells?)

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UK Defence Journal

 March 26, 2015 at 07:06

“your right it’s not funny but sadly it’s DAMN WELL TRUE!” – No it’s not, the price is now lower than a Eurofighter Typhoon and within expected.

“the plane is over 4 years late” – Yes it is, but there’s been no aircraft programme in the last 30 years that hasn’t been late, especially this complex. Typhoon and Rafale were much more delayed than this.

“the prototype keep ending up pancaking in the US” – Obviously, prototypes exist to be tested to extremes.

“and even the US air force has not taken them on STRENGTH yet!” – There are over 100 flying and production is ramping up…

“and as for the VTOL F-35 where the hell is THAT?” – Again, there are a large number of flying examples and it’s currently ahead of its test schedule.

“(still under development is not an acceptable answer)” – Yes it is, because the aircraft IS STILL UNDER DEVELOPMENT, as are all variants.

“we have two Queen Elisabeth class air craft carriers that have NO PLANES!” – They CANNOT HOST AIRCRAFT YET. When they leave sea trials and can host aircraft, they’ll begin receiving F-35. The carriers are not bloody ready for aircraft!

“this is going the way of all the “great ideas” from the US…(F1-11 ring any bells?)” – Please, for the love of God, do some research.

Reply

Graham Keith Todd

 March 26, 2015 at 07:22

really? when the US armed forces procurement lot have condemned the amount of money the plane has cost so far?

Reply

UK Defence Journal

 March 26, 2015 at 07:24

The GAO have said, and I quote, “Original baseline costs have been exceeded but are expected to reduce to original expectations from 2016 onwards.”

Now, again, please stop posting nonsense as fact.

Reply

UK Defence Journal

 March 26, 2015 at 07:24

This is ALL in the report linked to above Graham.

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Graham Keith Todd

 March 26, 2015 at 07:25

I am sorry but i happen to CARE a great deal about my former countries armed forces and the crap equipment,they are getting lumbered with!

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UK Defence Journal

 March 26, 2015 at 07:44

We all do but the points you made above weren’t accurate and it’s been explained why. Luckily, the pilots in the RAF and FAA are very pleased with the aircraft, we’re lucky enough to have people with first hand experience of the jets in our writing team. I expect you trust the judgement of actual pilots.

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