The U.S. Air Force may have to cut its purchases of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 by a third if it can’t find ways to reduce operations and support costs by as much as 38 percent over a decade, according to an internal analysis.
The shortfall would force the service to subtract 590 of the fighter jets from the 1,763 it plans to order, the Air Force office charged with evaluating the F-35’s impact on operations and budgets, [said] in an assessment obtained by Bloomberg News.
While the Defense Department has said it has gained control over costs for developing and producing a fleet of 2,456 F-35s for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps -- now projected at $406 billion -- the internal analysis underscores the current and looming challenges of maintaining and operating the warplanes.
It may cost as much as $1.1 trillion to keep the F-35s flying and maintained through 2070, according to the current estimate from the Pentagon’s independent cost unit.
A chart in the Air Force analysis, which was completed in December, said the service has “very limited visibility into how” increasing funds going to Lockheed for “contractor support” are spent.
The analysis represents the first public disclosure of the potential impact if support costs aren’t reduced. Using figures developed in 2012, the Air Force faces an annual bill of about $3.8 billion a year that must be cut back over the coming decade. (end of excerpt)
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