The Pentagon’s costliest program, Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35, is starting to look a little less expensive, with the latest estimate for development and procurement down 7.1% to $397.8 billion.
Less encouraging for the lawmakers who craft defense budgets and for taxpayers: Operating and maintaining the fleet for 66 years is projected to cost $1.182 trillion, a 7.8% increase over the estimate from the Pentagon’s F-35 office last year, according to the Defense Department’s annual assessment of the jet obtained by Bloomberg News.
The lower acquisition estimate produced by the F-35 program office is the latest in a string of good news that also includes improved on-time delivery of aircraft, the elimination of all flaws that were considered life-threatening to pilots and a steady reduction since 2018 in the number of potentially mission-crippling software deficiencies.
The Selected Acquisition Report, which hasn’t been released to the public, also said the F-35 program anticipates sales over time of 809 aircraft to international partners, up from the 764 projected last year. (end of excerpt)
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