The US Pentagon has reported it expects a US$4.5 billion saving in the cost of acquiring its planned fleet of 2,443 F-35s, equating to a one per cent drop from the earlier projected US$395.7 billion to US$391.2 billion.
Lockheed Martin said it would continue to work with defence officials to drive the cost of the F-35 program down further, while labour rates and software issues remaining the issues of greatest risk.
“This is the first year a cost reduction was noted. We will work with the F-35 Joint Program Office to implement further cost saving measures which will result in additional significant decreases to the total program cost,” Lockheed Martin spokesman Michael Rein told Reuters.
The Pentagon said the average cost of the conventional F-35A model, excluding R&D costs, had dropped to US$76.8 million per aircraft from the earlier projected cost of $78.7 million.
Partner nations to the F-35 program including Australia will also benefit from flow-on cost improvements.