F-35 $1 Trillion Cost: Cost And Delays Add To Confusion

March 27, 2016 | By Garrett Montgomery More

The F-35 will cost $1 trillion, well, make that exactly $1.5 trillion over its lifetime. While the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is seen as the jet of the future, it is also plagued with numerous software problems and is considered as a health hazard to its pilots.

Lockheed Martin F-35

According to a new study, the F-35 will cost more than $1 trillion in maintenance cost for its lifespan. On Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee shared another damaging report on the F-35 fighter jet or the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, which is considered as the combat aircraft of the future.

According to experts, due to countless developmental delays, the program will cost 30 to 40 percent more to maintain than current jet fighters. The Defense Department’s annual report broke down the numbers as followed:

The F-35 program will total $1.5 trillion by 2070 including development and procurement, as well as operating cost and inflation – in 2014; the price tag was predicted at $1.41 trillion. The report goes on to reveal that the cost for the F-35 fleet over a 53-year life cycle will be $857 billion, not accounting for inflation, of course. So, why did the cost balloon to such astronomic amount?

While Senator John McCain blamed the cost increases in the program on “cronyism,” the chief of the F-35 joint program office (JPO) Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan has another explanation. Bogdan claimed:

“…the projected cost increase in the Pentagon’s biggest arms program was due largely to a decision by the services to reduce the jets’ annual flying hours to 250 hours from 300. The jets have a service life of 8,000 hours, meaning they would be flying for an additional six years or 1.6 million flying hours, which in turn would add significant operating costs.”

However, there is a glimmer of good news, by 2019, pricing for the fifth-generation aircraft will be less than fourth-generation fighters. An F-35A in 2019 is expected to cost $85 million per unit complete with engines and full mission systems, inflation adjusted from $75 million in December 2013.

In the report, Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, said the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II has “more than 931 unresolved significant deficiencies” that could cause death, severe injury, or severe illness, and it “remains immature and provides limited combat capability.” Gilmore said:

Three out of five F-35s currently considered operational have been grounded due to software problems. There are mechanical problems too – notably, the ejector seat that may kill pilots weighing less than 136 pounds (62 kg) and has “serious problems” with those weighing over 165 pounds (75 kg). For pilots weighing anywhere in between, about a quarter of all aviators, the evaluators estimated a 23 percent probability of death during ejection, and a 100-percent probability of neck injury.

He called the current testing and deployment schedule “unrealistic” and estimated that the software will not be ready anytime soon.

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    1. bing wi says:

      Contracted companies are greedy for money and try to use cheap employees.
      That can be the problem.

    2. steven says:

      there comes a time when you realize the cost is not worth the reward. We have a struggling economy and you want to spend that much on 1 fighter? What happened to the F22 and the F16? Pull the plug on this for now and work out the avionics by upgrading the current aircraft.

      • Yep says:

        Do you have any idea how old the F16 is? Please dont talk..

        • Harrison says:

          The B-52 is real old and still effective and will be in service for years to come. They just brought back the OV-10 bronco because it gets the job done. Just because it’s new does not mean it is better or effective.

      • Bob says:

        The F-16 was developed and first flew in 1974. Its a classic but far outdated. The F-22 was supposed to be too costly and the F-35 was supposed to be a cheaper alternative. Somebody dropped the ball. The F-22 was last produced in 2011. So we are stuck with these money pits that don’t work.

    3. JR says:

      So what? How much have we spent on the war on poverty only to have record numbers of people needing food stamps under the Obama regime?!? Where are the results of those programs after 50+ years of a so-called war on poverty? How much has that cost taxpayers with nothing to show for it? Hmmm? There’s plenty of waste and abuse in all areas of government, not just in the Dept of Defense.

    4. J. Harp says:

      How big does this boondoggle have to get before we call a halt??!!! This thing has cost the TAXPAYERS over $1 TRILLION DOLLARS AND IT DOES NOT WORK!!! Enough is enough!!!

    5. Truth says:

      Way to read the title and jump straight to the comment section. $1.5 trillion is not for one aircraft, it is the entire program from design/development, to production, to ongoing maintenance for the design life of *all* F-35 aircraft.

      And you can’t just retrofit the avionics into older craft, it doesn’t work that way. To design in all the various systems would essentially leave you with a entirely new plane anyway so better to start from scratch and exploit modern manufacturing techniques that give you a more capable plane.

      The problem isn’t the aircraft itself, the problem is the government procurement system which allows these programs to drag on with missed design goal deadlines and cost overruns because the real intent is to porkbelly a bunch of voters in the home states of the politicians that keep this trainwreck rolling.

    6. clay says:

      agreed bing and steven … though the cost projections are for the fleet, not a single fighter. money would be better spent on existing and near generation aircraft by upgrading their avionics and weapons capabilities. we do need to defend ourselves, but not at such a significant cost over such a limited lifetime craft. Lockheed Martin, accused by McCain rather astutely of cronyism because that is the truth of it, has been sucking the tit of the military industrial complex long and hard enough. reduce and scrutinize their contracts – you’ll find them missing a whole lot of deliverables.

    7. Jerry says:

      $1.5 trillion by 2070…wow…after 55 years of support! About 1% of the current national debt which has been created in just the last 10 years; the majority of which was created in the last 7 years. But no one seems to be up in arms about that. And how all the social programs that were created and failed; how much did those cost? Doesn’t seem so big when you compare it to something a bit more recognizable. Instead of writing about something like this, why not go after the banker gangsters that killed the economy in 2007-2008? Not one of there are in prison nor are any of the current administration’s people that provided “oversight” intended to prevent this from happening.

    8. frank hilton says:

      I agree, way to much money. too many problems.

    9. patrick says:

      When you sign a contract you should expect the contract to be honored. These overruns need to stop. The contractor won the contract with their bid. What good is it to bid out contracts when the contractors aren’t held accountable. When we have a builder build a home we pay what the contract says,no more no less.

    10. chris says:

      Easy to shoot down. Horrible pressure signatures all over the place. The villains dream.

    11. Zucobi Z Lucky says:

      1 Trillion Dollars for a Jet fighter, Get Real, Desiogn something like the F14, LQQK how long it was In service, And at what Coast,, Come Uncle Sam Stop Wastingf our Money,,

      • Will says:

        Not only did the F14 have a long service life, but they brought it back into service. It was the only one that could not only target 16 diffent targets, but it could attack all 16 different targets at the same time. There are plenty of past fighter jets that with a few upgrades can fill the role of the F35 better. All they simply need to do is open contract bids to build the air frames and provid parts. Restarting the building of the air frames would be easy and cheap as they have all ready over come any problems in the past. Plus newer techniques can be used to do it faster, cheaper, and make a better product. Unfortunetly there are those in the process who are stuck on constantly having the latest toy, but just becuase it is new does not mean it is better. Our millitary should be allowed to focus on what works best for their needs. To do this we need to contracting every thing out, and bring most if not all of the devlopment back in house to the millitary.


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