A new order for 90 F35’s

A new deal has the price of the F35A jet below $100 million for the first time

Lockheed said in a statement that the increase in production this marks, “enables us to reduce costs by taking advantage of economies of scale and production efficiencies.” For those who haven’t been reading us regularly, the statement also says that the president’s “personal involvement in the F-35 program accelerated the negotiations and sharpened our focus on driving down the price.”

Lockheed Martin has promised the F-35A will drop below $85 million by 2019. And the leader of the F-35 Joint Program Office, Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, has promised it will hit between $80 million and $85 million for the plane and its engines. The engines are technically a separate program. The latest costs include the engine and assorted other costs.

One area where the F-35 is still expensive? The cost per hour to fly, which over the lifetime of the plane can amount to more than the plane itself. The F-35A still costs a whopping $42,169 per hour to fly. Assuming a plane flies 120 hours a year, over 20 years that comes out to $100 million. The Super Hornet costs about $17,000 an hour to fly, which comes out to $40 million.

Over a 20-year period, it costs almost exactly the same amount of money to buy and fly six Super Hornets or three F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. Originally, the F-35A was supposed to cost just $49 million each, adjusted for inflation.

LRIP 10 (Low rate initial production) – F-35 Costs:

F-35A: $94.6 million

F-35B: $122.8 million

F-35C $121.8 million

The numbers do not include the cost to buy maintenance equipment and other necessary support elements. They do not include money the Pentagon will spend to fix design errors discovered in testing now and in the future. These figures are not the “sticker price.”

One could calculate a far more complete price from the appropriations that Bogdan told Congress he needed to buy functioning airplanes. The difference between what he is telling the press and what he told Congress in 2015 is significant — it is also the difference between a factory simply putting together a airplane and delivering an airplane that can actually fly and operate.

For the 2015 fiscal year, the F-35 project chief petitioned Congress for $6.4 billion to produce 34 F-35s for the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy. This amount did not included separate funds for research and development and other costs that the Pentagon asked for in budget request.

With the production data, we can calculate a F-35A has a price tag of $157 million, not $102 million. It’s $265 million for a F-35B and $355 million for a F-35C, not $132 million for either variant.

On average, these F-35s cost $188 million apiece, not $122 million.

More basically, Bogdan says the F-35’s price has been coming down, and indeed it has. The $188 million generic price in 2015 was less than the $250 million the Pentagon quoted in 2001.

Here’s the breakdown of the recent order of planes:

44 F-35A for U.S. Air Force
9 F-35B for U.S. Marine Corps
2 F-35C for U.S. Navy
3 F-35B for UK
6 F-35A for Norway
8 F-35A for Australia (presumably the sale occurs only if they don’t send us those refugees…)
2 F-35A for Turkey
4 F-35A for Japan
6 F-35A for Israel
6 F-35A for South Korea

The F35 still has 276 deficiencies in combat performance as “critical to correct” in Block 3F, but less than half of the critical deficiencies were addressed with attempted corrections in 3FR6. [aka they are only even attempting to try to fix half of the critical problems in this current round of fixes]

SOURCE – breaking defense

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