The F-35 Program Just Became $100 Billion Costlier

The world’s costliest weapons program, just went from $1.5 trillion to $1.6 trillion

It’s now at $1,624 billion, up from $1,529 billion. Lockheed is bleeding the Empire harder than the Viet Cong

Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 jet, the world’s costliest weapons program, just got even costlier.

The estimated total price for research and procurement has increased by $22 billion in current dollars adjusted for inflation, according to the Pentagon’s latest annual cost assessment of major projects. The estimate for operating and supporting the fleet of fighters over more than six decades grew by almost $73 billion to $1.196 trillion.

The increase to $428.4 billion from $406.2 billion in acquisition costs, about a 5.5 percent increase, isn’t due to poor performance, delays or excessive costs for labor or materials, according to the Defense Department’s latest Selected Acquisition Report sent to Congress last week and obtained by Bloomberg News.

Instead, the increase reflects for the first time the current cost estimates for a major set of upgrades planned in coming “Block 4” modifications, according to the report.

“Ensuring our Block 4 efforts are captured in our acquisition baseline and now in our SAR help us to provide full transparency and status on our F-35 modernization progress,” the Pentagon’s F-35 program office said in an emailed statement.

“The F-35 program remains within all cost, schedule and performance thresholds and continues to make steady progress,” the program office said in its statement. The office “is committed to the delivery of cost-effective warfighting capability across all areas of the program.”

But the long-range cost estimate for operating the fleet from 2011 to 2077 was problematic even before the latest independent Pentagon cost projection of an increase to $1.196 trillion. By contrast, the F-35 program office’s latest estimate declined by about $8.5 billion to $1 trillion.

Scrutiny Expected

The projected increase is likely to be scrutinized by lawmakers, Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord and Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan because they have been pushing the program office and Lockheed to reduce projected operations and support costs.

As a potential sign of concern, the Pentagon’s fiscal 2021 proposed budget calls for 17 fewer F-35s than planned — 81, according to the Selected Acquisition Report.

“At current estimates, the projected F-35 sustainment outlays based upon given planned fleet growth will strain future service operations and support budgets,” the report said. Lockheed also “must embrace much-needed supply chain management affordability initiatives, optimize priorities across the supply chain for spare and new production parts” and share the data rights to certain F-35 software with the Pentagon.

Lockheed’s View

Carolyn Nelson, a spokeswoman for Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed, said in an email that the contractor “is taking aggressive action to build supply chain capacity, reduce supply chain costs and improve parts availability to help drive sustainment costs down while enhancing readiness.”

She said the actions by the No. 1 U.S. defense contractor include supply chain competitions, restructuring supplier contracts, synchronizing spare buys, improving parts reliability and accelerating modifications to earlier aircraft. Likewise, the company has “reduced our portion of ‘cost per aircraft’ per year by 15 percent since 2015 and we continue to look for ways to reduce costs,” she said.

The U.S. still plans to buy 2,456 total of the jets in its variations: 1,763 for the Air Force, 420 for the Marines and 273 for the Navy. The totals don’t include more than 700 potential foreign military sales.

Source: Bloomberg

  1. CHUCKMAN says

    Apart from these astounding costs, the Pentagon estimates that it costs $30,000 in maintenance for every hour it flies.

    The F-35 could almost become a symbol for America: unbelievably wasteful and not even able to do its job.

  2. JustPassingThrough says

    just building shareholder value. lol

  3. Mistaron says

    Just imagine what an incredible society devoid of poverty, homelessness, wealth-sapping healthcare, crippling education fees, infrastructure fails, etc, etc, could justly be provided for all American citizens if such devastating amounts of money weren’t squandered so frivolously on the corrupt and obscene MIC money-pit and warmongering doctrine inculcated into the psyche of the American people.

    1. CHUCKMAN says

      No one in the power establishment is the least interested.

      For Democrats and Republicans with political ambition, the route to success is through the plutocracy and empire, America’s very social-political structure being deliberately constructed to channel them into that outcome. It is next to impossible for any individual, no matter how gifted and ambitious and idealistic, to rise, avoiding the constraints and demands of that immensely powerful structure.

      Ordinary folks do not count at all anymore in America, despite a lot of fake political rhetoric, and there are no resources left for them anyway after war and empire.

      Both parties are factions of a single national imperial party, one which allows no straying from basics, one with immense resources for punishing anyone’s attempt. No candidate, except for one dutifully ignored by America’s entire corporate press and receiving no attention from national figures beyond scorn, Tulsi Gabbard, has any intention of seriously challenging anything important.

      That very much includes Bernie Sanders, who so often makes interesting and pleasant noises but has no record of genuinely opposing empire and establishment and endless war. His noises are just that, noises, because even in the unlikely event he were to be elected, he would have zero capacity to realize any of his major social programs. The establishment doesn’t want them, any of them, and that just could not be clearer.

      If you can’t change the basic structures – money and lobbies completely driving politics, immense wealth and much abused privilege avoiding any real share of national burdens, insane commitments all over the world from Israel to 800 American military bases, an immense and democracy-corrupting military and security establishment, you cannot change anything of substance. Not a thing.

      This of course is exactly the embarrassing situation, the impossible dilemma, into which Trump has fallen. Despite his throbbing ego-centric love of seeing himself as strong and uniquely capable, he cannot change anything, as he may have wanted to change things in foreign and military affairs, because he has never had any inclination to change basics.

      Trump has no capacity for doing so, even were he so inclined. He has demonstrated remarkable cowardice, repeatedly, in avoiding the establishment’s efforts to direct or destroy him, and he has literally grovelled to members of Israel’s Lobby in return for protection and financing, something making him part of the problem and not the solution.

      It would take an almost revolutionary development, such as total economic collapse or a great war, to turn the reality of America’s situation around quickly. Those are highly unlikely events.

      What we are likely to see is a continued steady decline of America’s position in the world, a decline well underway already. Loss of everything from the loyalty of traditional allies in the face of American arrogance and greed to the loss of the special place the dollar holds in the world, a place enabling the country to run gigantic deficits at least for a time.

      The showy American circus we now see running just cannot continue indefinitely. It is often the case that people are fooled by noise and flash and displays of power, but they can only continue so long in the face of changing underlying realities.

      Apart from America’s international support network now being badly frayed, new competitors in the world, who didn’t exist during America’s post-WWII heyday, just keep coming on strong. There’s just is no putting everything back into Pandora’s box, as Trump pathetically tries doing.

      America is rapidly losing every bit of good will it ever earned with a set of views and policies literally hostile to everyone else’s interests. You can’t attack other peoples’ interests and then turn around and expect their admiration and support. It cannot be done. Only a lunatic would try.

      America has attacked every worthwhile organization which provides the other 95% of the world’s people a place to speak from – the UN, the WTO, the ICC, ad others – and it has attacked the direct national interests of dozens of individual countries, from Germany and India to China and Iran and even South Korea.

      How can anyone even think that the compete contempt for the rule of law, for the laws of other nations, for international law, and the substitution of America law applying to everyone, can possibly succeed in the long run? Only blind political ideologues, as intense as religious fanatics, can believe that.

      America is on the wrong side of history in almost every aspect of its foreign policy and diplomacy and hammer-blow trade measures, and the accumulating results of that are going to be very destructive for America’s position in the world. That’s not Jeremiah speaking, that’s the cold reality of the human condition.

      1. Mistaron says

        Rarely check my notifications, but I’m glad I did. That was worthy
        of a ‘Global Research’ missive if you don’t mind me saying. Very eloquently put sir.

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