A report to Congress from the Pentagon justifying the continuance of the troubled F-35 JSF program has revealed the potential for further cost increases.
The report, prepared by acquisition head Ashton Carter in response to a Nunn-McCurdy costs breach which required the program to be substantially restructured and forward cost and schedule estimates to be assured, says the total cost of developing and procuring the 2443 F-35s planned for the USAF, US Navy and US Marine Corps may be as much as US$382bn (A$454bn), more than double the original estimate of US$178bn (A$211bn) when the program started in 2001.
But Lockheed Martin officials have disputed these and other estimates, with the company saying the cost estimates were based on ‘legacy’ programs such as the F-16 and F/A-18. “We cannot see any kind of scenario going forward where those numbers become reality,” an unnamed company official told US media on June 1.
He added that the actual price per F-35 to date had come in 20 per cent less than previous estimates for the 14 aircraft currently being built under LRIP 3, and would likely do so again for the 30 aircraft currently planned under LRIP 4.