The bad news on the F-35 fighter jet is even worse than it sounds. The cost of the program, already the most expensive weapons system the Pentagon has ever fielded, is estimated to climb further—to at least $406.5 billion. That’s according to a scoop by Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio, whose defense sourcing yielded advance access to a document called a Selected Acquisition Report.
The report, which was submitted to Congress on Monday, estimates that procurement costs for the F-35 will come in about 7 percent higher than the last projection of $379 billion.
But acquisition—which refers to development and production of the futuristic planes—doesn’t tell the whole story. When operations and maintenance of the F-35 are factored in, the total will likely exceed $1.1 trillion over the decades to come. That reflects an increase of more than $35 billion. And that larger number could rise significantly if the Pentagon and the jet’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin Corp., don’t address the F-35’s deteriorating reliability.
The estimate for the overall average per-jet program acquisition cost in current dollars rose to $165 million from $154 million, according to the Pentagon.
Lockheed “has not had the opportunity to review” the acquisition report, “but cost continues to come down on the F-35 program,” company spokesman Mark Johnson said in a statement. He cited the $95 million per-unit cost of the Air Force version of the F-35, a price that he said represented a 62 percent reduction since 2010. (end of excerpt)
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