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 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.

  • 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.

35 COMMENTS

  1. Looks like they might finally have some proper project managrmt in place. Better late than never I suppose.
    Maybe in a parallel universe this will mean we place a suitable order and don’t have such a pathetic fast jet fleet

    • Oh really, Simon? Thank you for that in depth analysis. If only the MOD had thought to check the comments sections of pages like this and use the combined wisdom of the YouTube community before deciding on a carrier borne fast jet.
      Think of the mistakes that could be accomp….avoided. with guys like you in charge!!

  2. 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?)

    • “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 Elizabeth 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.

      • Reading these comments on the F35B one can only think that most of the writers must belong to some sort of Mr.Putin benefit society. It seems that every trivial problem in the F35B development program has to be elevated to catastrophic levels using copious numbers of weasel words to make mountains out of mole hills. For example what possible difference does it make to the 50 year designed lifespan of the carriers if some of the initial aircraft are a few months late, especially if the delays are substantially mitigated. The truth is it is a very marginal hiccup, not a catastrophe. I also notice that whilst there is a mass of criticism about the cost of the F35B, which is in fact actually reducing, little or no mention is made of the significant and substantial monitory claw back that the UK government will receive from it’s Level 1 Partner Status in the programme which calls for 15% of the all manufacturing work on the F35B to be carried out in the UK.

        It is about time that the reality of the Harrier’s death is accepted so that it can be left to rest in a respectful peace.

  3. Oh really? The US development and acquisition budget of just under $400B decreased ~$7B between now and ~2030. That is at best a modest decrease, and was made possible by altered assumptions of inflation and labor rates. The cost to produce the air vehicle actually increased. The “$60B” decrease “in just one year” proclaimed by Lockheed Martin does not jibe with statements made by PEO Bogdan yesterday, who said that the slight decreases in O&S costs have already been eaten up by inflation. So who do you believe?

  4. I think once again Britain has ordered another American “white elephant” ? They are still having even more problems with the design as time goes on. I would not be surprised if our new Carriers end up as helicopter assault ships!

  5. Its likely the versions of the f35 will be more successful than the Eurofighter which has not been mentioned looks to be cheaper and certainly quicker to be ready for deployment than that white elephant

  6. Good! We rather have patriotic defense companies or have none at all… It’s unacceptable to ripp off the tax payer, because the RAF protects the whole society … Including the defense industry

  7. Having worked in the Sciences and technology of various Aerospace programmes you simply don’t get the best on time and within budget, unless you are building Spitfires. The tech involved is always evolving and theories often become less reliable when tested in the extremes of G force and the heat and pressures that build within experimental testing. New tech can change several times in a year. And then you have to test all over again. Then you have the software, which creates huge issues with these types of flyers’. I’m afraid that an awful amount of nonsense and disinfo is placed in alternative media as simple clickbait, and it appears to work. Some of the new tech, I am told on this particular craft, is out of this world, in comparison to even the Typhoon Class. There you go, run that one round the internet a few times. Something like, ” Secret scientist working on the F 35 reveals alien technology is used” reason for delay ! I’ll leave that one with you all 🙂

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