Jeff Babione, Lockheed Martin’s programme manager for the F-35, told reporters that the cost of the F-35A will drop to about $85 million by 2019.

This is understood to be thanks to efficiencies and cost-cutting manufacturing technologies. The B and C variants designed for the Marine Corps and Navy, which are heavier and purchased in smaller quantities, are not included in the 2019 goal but are however steadily reducing in cost.

By contrast, the Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter aircraft cost about $60 million apiece.

Jeff Babione said:

“We think that price with this capability will be unbeatable. You’ll be able to afford a fifth-generation airplane for what would be a fourth-generation price for anything else offered in the free world. The Lockheed/BAE/Northrop Grumman contractor team is hyper-focused on reducing the price of the airplane.”

With the Air Force set to reach F-35 initial operating capability by the end of this year, Babione said Lockheed Martin’s manufacturing facility in Fort Worth, Texas, was busy assembling the largest number of airplanes the program had ever produced at one time. At any given time, he said, there are some 115 F-35s in stages of major sub-assembly.

As we reported at the start of last year, 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.

Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, the head of the F-35 joint program office, hosted a press event in 2015 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 2015’s selected acquisition report (SAR) noted reducing procurement costs, down by $3 billion. 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 and show a continued drop in price.

F-35A conventional takeoff and landing model: $117 million, $112 million, $108 million.
F-35B “jump-jet” model: $145 million, $137 million, $134 million.
F-35C carrier variant: $134 million, $130 million, $129 million.

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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passerby
passerby
5 years ago

Another pro-govt article.

Jonny Davies
5 years ago

Perhaps the RAF could buy some of the A variant instead

David Anthony Simpson
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

No

Jonny Davies
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

Once again your inspired detailed replay so intelligent and well thought out

Neil Matthew Palapala
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

I love the C variant longer wings

Jonny Davies
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

Would have been great to have cats and traps on the carriers so we could have the C variant

Neil Matthew Palapala
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

Jonny Davies you’re right

Jake Hayes
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

I like the B variant despite not having an internal gun but the a with a gun would good to have but the typhoon fills that land fgr based jet.

Jonny Davies
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

We could buy a mixture of f35b and f35a im sure the RAF would prefer to have some A variants

Jonny Davies
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

Jake Hayes but the b variant will also be used as a land based jet by the RAF

Daniel Adams
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

They are effectively different aircraft with all the additional problems that comes with that. So no. A bad idea.

Jonny Davies
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

Not that the RAF are not used to flying with 3 types of different jets.

Michael Thomas
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

Why? The RAF already have their procurement organised. A mixture of Typhoon and Lightning II. Adding A models would effectively mean scraping the Typhoons.

A pointless expenditure when there are more pressing things to be done

Daniel Adams
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

Jonny Davies that’s not to point it’s money. And extra personal needed.

UK Defence Journal
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

It’s extra cost and extra resources for what will effectively be less carrier capability.

Neil Matthew Palapala
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

RAF needs both of them A & B

Jonny Davies
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

Less RAF capability less range less weapons load

David Anthony Simpson
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

Someday people will understand what working within a fixed budget means. Unneccessary expenditure by having more types or variants of a type in the inventory than is essential is yesterday’s way of doing business and in effect added £100Ms to our expnditure ofr no real gain in capabilites. Another facet is that all changes and apparently good ideas can add exponential cost …often money that is not there and certainly if they are poursued, means money has to be reduced on other equally important projects to stay withn the overall budget available. Fortunately of course aerospace technology and design has… Read more »

David Anthony Simpson
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

Jonny Davies Only if you view thiose issues in isolation. Question? Does the F35B meet the operational requirment range and payloads? Answer : Yes. Does it provide flexibility to operate a single type at efficent cost both for land and carrier based operations? Answer yes. Is it therefore affordable within a defence budget that has lots of other expensive and essential capabilities to develop and buy? Answer: yes. Get real….defence expenditure has always been about making choices and comporimises to get the optimum bang for the buck. The ideal and most desirable solutions are either just not atatinable and are… Read more »

UK Defence Journal
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

Well said David.

Jonny Davies
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

Working within a fixed budget our defence companies are a shining example of that

Jonny Davies
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

Does the RAF really want the f35b? No

David Anthony Simpson
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

Neil Matthew Palapala Justify that loose statement

David Anthony Simpson
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

Jonny Davies On what do you base that?

David Anthony Simpson
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

Jonny Davies Taking a cheap shot at how siome of our defecne projects are managed is no argument against the fundamental points I make. Indeed its quite the opposite. All high tech projects are fraught with manageabkle and to some extnt unpredicatble risks. They also invovle politcs at the highest level wehre poor decison making ove rproject managemtn and timing can itself lead to gross cost overuns above the planend budgets. Its easy to point the finger at the prime contractor..but frankly thats the facile refuge of the uneductaed lynch mob.

Daniel Adams
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

Jonny Davies its not about what the RAF “WANTS”. It’s about what the RAF needs. The raf would like a long range strategic bomber but it won’t get it because it does not need it.

Jonny Davies
5 years ago
Reply to  Jonny Davies

Why would the RAF want an inferior less capable more expensive more complicated aircraft which they have to share? I think you need to update your spellcheck. The Royal Navy must have been licking their lips when the Tories went to the f35c.

Steve
Steve
5 years ago

I think better to focus on getting what we have working first, and get the eurofighter fully upgraded so it can take over from the tornado.

Mark L
Mark L
5 years ago

Jonny Davies – The Tories didn’t go for the C variant, we’re getting the B version!

Dave B Philips
Dave B Philips
5 years ago

I believe there was consideration for the ‘A’ variant a few years ago. I couldn’t say whether this was media speculation or not. It came after Philip Hammond sign the initial deal for 48 ‘B’ variants and there was a possibility that the MOD would make up the 138 airframe UK commitment to the f35 programme with replacement of the typhoon in the 2030’s with the ‘A’ variant. As the Typhoon has an operation date well into the 2040’s now, It would seem that the ‘A’ variant suggestion is no longer valid and would imagine by the 2040’s the F35… Read more »

John Stevens
John Stevens
5 years ago

The F35B will be a very capable and potent jet for the RAF and Royal Navy along with the two new 65,000 T carriers. I also think having two multi-role carriers was the best choice for this country, gives the uk military capabilities to suit different scenarios.. Personally i’m very much looking forward to seeing these pieces of kit coming into service.. I think sometimes people need to remember there is only a certain amount that is available to spend on defence, lot’s of other important budgets need money too.. NHS, Schools, Transport and so on.. So Let’s be grateful… Read more »

Geoff
Geoff
5 years ago

So, reading the small print, this propaganda only refers to the A variant, so is utterly irrelevant to the UK. Nice.

Should have been buying C variants and fitting out the carriers with cats and traps.

Ross Hendrie
5 years ago

We should consider investing in a separate RAF group of strike fighters, and leave the current batch that’s on order to the FAA.

UK Defence Journal
5 years ago
Reply to  Ross Hendrie

Sadly that would not be cost effective or best practice.

David Anthony Simpson
5 years ago
Reply to  Ross Hendrie

The RAF has always been the prime mover behind acquisition of the STOVL variant.

Matthew William John Jamison
Reply to  Ross Hendrie

To what ends. THINK why we’re fighting them.

Matthew William John Jamison
Reply to  Ross Hendrie
Ross Hendrie
5 years ago
Reply to  Ross Hendrie

That’s irony for you, a republican quoting Nazis.

UK Defence Journal
5 years ago
Reply to  Ross Hendrie

Matthew William John Jamison, why are you posting this gibberish?

Matthew William John Jamison
Reply to  Ross Hendrie

I’m sorry you think it’s bullshit. but our prime minister & the president are mere puppets to the rothschild family.

Matthew William John Jamison
Reply to  Ross Hendrie
Matthew William John Jamison
Reply to  Ross Hendrie
Matthew William John Jamison
Reply to  Ross Hendrie
Ross Hendrie
5 years ago
Reply to  Ross Hendrie

Kindly desist.

Matthew William John Jamison
Reply to  Ross Hendrie
Matthew William John Jamison
Reply to  Ross Hendrie
Matthew William John Jamison
Reply to  Ross Hendrie
Matthew William John Jamison
Reply to  Ross Hendrie
Matthew William John Jamison
Reply to  Ross Hendrie
Matthew William John Jamison
Reply to  Ross Hendrie
Matthew William John Jamison
Reply to  Ross Hendrie
Ross Hendrie
5 years ago
Reply to  Ross Hendrie

No ones actually reading these you know…

Matthew William John Jamison
Reply to  Ross Hendrie

they do

David Anthony Simpson
5 years ago
Reply to  Ross Hendrie

Can someone remove this plonker please

Ross Hendrie
5 years ago
Reply to  Ross Hendrie

Agreed. ^

UK Defence Journal
5 years ago
Reply to  Ross Hendrie

Matthew William John Jamison, we report defence news, perhaps join a relevant Facebook group. Please stop, I’m asking politely, cheers.

Matthew William John Jamison
Reply to  Ross Hendrie

no probs man. I apologise. I just hate our serviceman losing their lives for the wrong reasons. it’s a subject close to my heart. no more posts from me. YNWA

Michael Thomas
5 years ago
Reply to  Ross Hendrie

Agreed. This conspiracy nut needs to find a relevant FB group to share their fan theories. Maybe Twilight would be a good motivational film.

Matthew William John Jamison

conservatives & l

Michael Thomas
5 years ago

What if I told you you’re a spamming troll?

Matthew William John Jamison

I’m far from it mate. I really care about our servicemen. I’ve family in the forces. but their fighting for the wrong reasons & wrong people. we should prosecute the bankers that almost bankrupt our country & still get tax breaks with new budget. while robbing disabled people. scumbags mate. sorry, but that’s how I feel.

Steve
Steve
5 years ago

It would be better to invest in some more defensive aircraft, like the growler.

If we ever need to go against any form of semi modern air defence, the typhoon or f35’s will be very vulnerable.

Peter
Peter
5 years ago
Reply to  Steve

We have recently placed orders on a number of P-8 Poseidon aircraft, which are almost as defensive as it gets when it comes to capabilities and armaments. The Growler was effective in the past but aircraft such as the P-8 are better suited to the UK’s needs now and hopefully in the future.

Lewis Pollard
5 years ago

It’s not going to drop even close to what it cost?

UK Defence Journal
5 years ago
Reply to  Lewis Pollard

Want to try and type that again?

Chris Lewis
5 years ago

138 is gonna happen. Preportion a to b we will see. I suspect half and half with b first

Julian
Julian
5 years ago
Reply to  Chris Lewis

Chris Lewis – “138 is gonna happen. Preportion a to b we will see. I suspect half and half with b first”. Quite possible and if it happens, although I suspect it would be driven by politics, it might not be a completely crazy strategy. The bad reason – Shift to A half way through the run to save money on the procurement budgets, maybe for tax cuts before some future election, and ignore increased logistics costs vs an all-F35B buy because those won’t hit until a couple of parliamentary terms later so let a future government worry about it.… Read more »

Simon Taylor
5 years ago
Reply to  Chris Lewis

We’re only getting the B model, won’t be any A’s.

Chris Lewis
5 years ago
Reply to  Chris Lewis

That is the current plan, however there are considerations with making later purchases the A model to save money once there are enough B’s to fill the carriers.

David Sheridan
5 years ago

Be on ebay soon 😉

Seb Haggart
5 years ago

So not the b then just the a at present. Biggest mistake was not going cat and trap with F18 and waiting until the f35c became cheaper in years. If you are going to send the QE class to sea with only 6 f35b onboard why make them so big. The invincible class could of taken that number. Especially now they are being modified to take on oceans role so having such major big assets close in to deploy landing crafts and marines is a big no no I’m my book especially with current ciws fit.

Daniel Adams
5 years ago
Reply to  Seb Haggart

Cats and traps would have left us with 1 carrier many years later than we will now. QE class has a tailored air group of anything up to 40 f35s and anything imbetween depending on the requirement.

Seb Haggart
5 years ago
Reply to  Seb Haggart

Not if they had planned it from the beginning and we still could of had 2. I bet we never see the day where they have 40 aircraft on board let alone 40 f35. I expect we might see a day when they are cat and trap converted though. I worry they are being asked to perform a jack of all trades role. This upgrading (they call it) of POW to take landing craft and a higher number of marines is stupid. If you are going to build a 60,000tne carrier then let’s get it doing what it does best… Read more »

Julian
Julian
5 years ago
Reply to  Seb Haggart

Not sure I agree that cat &a trap would have been a particularly easy or cheap amendment even if planned from the beginning and it would have lost us the capability to rapidly deploy land-based planes and pilots onto the carriers if required. We aren’t the USA and we just can’t afford even 36 of our F35 fleet permanently assigned to a single carrier let alone 72 if both carriers were ever at sea at the same time plus with deep maintenance and training/conversion units those numbers would be higher. I do however share your concerns regarding the dual-purposing of… Read more »

Daniel Adams
5 years ago
Reply to  Seb Haggart

What Ifs are brilliant with hindsight but so would everything. So that’s not an argument. We are getting over 130 f35b so why do you think we won’t see 40 on board ever? And I asked the question about putting troops ashore and was told that under combat conditions they would be landed using helecopter from a safe distance and only use landing craft in a benign situation. Yes it would be lovely to have dedicated ships for every role but we don’t and will never have the budget to do it.

Seb Haggart
5 years ago
Reply to  Seb Haggart

It was not an argument but a point. The RAF are already arguing over control of the aircraft. The plan is for over 130 but I’ll believe when I see it. If we do don’t think all will be in service at the same time. Service, training, RAF deployment. You will never see 40 f35b on a QE class I’ll put my house and navy pension on it. Any surge in air power on board would mean a war setting one would presume where the air group as you all ready pointed out would be tailored. As they are being… Read more »

Steve
Steve
5 years ago

The only reason to fully equip out the carriers, is if we have something like Falklands mark2, which seesm extremely unlikely. My assumption is that most of the time these will be mainly carrying helicopters. The changes to the prince of wales does bring extra weight to the purchase of the osprey. Putting the carriers too close to shore, becasue of the limited range of the harriers, caused a lot of issues in the falkladns, which i assume should be solved by the longer range of the f35. This then being undone by relying on the range of helicopters is… Read more »

Andy
Andy
5 years ago

I think if we were starting the design process now, we’d probably go for 3 no ~45,000 ton vessels fitted with EMALS cats & traps. But 20 years ago, when the design actually started, a cost effective option for that was still probably 30 years into the future (ie, 10 years from now). So I guess we’ve all gotta just live with it until the Queen Elizabeth class retires.