Skip to comments.Jet Fighter Costs to Hit $1 Trillion[F-35]
Posted on 03/12/2008 9:51:33 AM PDT by BGHater
The cost of buying and operating a new fleet of jet fighters for the U.S. military is nearing $1 trillion, according to a congressional audit that found the program dogged by delays, manufacturing inefficiencies and price increases.
Released Tuesday, the report from the Government Accountability Office offers a sobering assessment of the ambitious effort to deliver a modern series of aircraft known as the F-35 Lightning II to the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.
Tasked by Congress to conduct an annual assessment of the program, the GAO said costs have gone up by $23 billion since last year alone.
Close to $300 billion is needed to acquire 2,458 aircraft for the three services and another $650 billion will be needed to operate and maintain the fighters that are expected to be flying well into the 21st century, the report says.
Operating costs, projected at $346 billion just a few years ago, have been driven upward by changes in repair plans, revised costs for depot maintenance, higher fuel costs and increased fuel consumption.
The GAO's auditors said they expect development and procurement costs "to increase substantially and schedule pressures to worsen based on performance to date."
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. of Fort Worth, Texas, is the prime contractor for the Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter.
The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, also sees many of the problems as self-inflicted.
"The contractor has extended manufacturing schedules several times, but test aircraft delivery dates continue to slip," the report states. "The flight test program has barely begun, but faces substantial risks with reduced assets as design and manufacturing problems continue to cause delays that further compress the time available to complete development."
Auditors criticized both the military and the contractor for pressing into the jet's development's phase before key technologies were mature, started manufacturing test aircraft before designs were stable, and moved to production before flight tests showed the aircraft was ready.
"We do not know the basis for the GAO estimates and until we receive and analyze their data we will be unable to comment on them," Lockheed spokesman John Smith said in an e-mailed statement.
Smith, however, said the company has been careful stewards of U.S. tax dollars by trimming costs wherever possible.
"We continue to apply the same kind of oversight, budget alignment and lean thinking to the program," he said.
Production of the Lightning II has begun and the Defense Department is scheduled to buy the aircraft through 2034. U.S. allies are also buying hundreds of the jets and are contributing $4.8 billion in development costs.
The Lightning II is being produced in several different models tailored to the needs of each service. The new jet will replace the Air Forces F-16 Falcon and the A-10 Warthog aircraft. A short takeoff and vertical landing version will replace the Marine Corps F/A-18C/D and AV-8B Harrier aircraft. And the Navy is buying a model designed for taking off and landing on aircraft carriers. On the Net:
* GAO report on Lightning II: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08388.pdf * F-35 Lightning II program: http://www.jsf.mil/
Nice idea, we cannot afford it.
Nonsense. Just put it on their tab.
crAP opposes it ... it must be good.
Kelly Johnson is spinning in his grave.
According to the article, the trillion dollars is the cost of acquiring and operating the fleet until “well into the 21st century”. Probably thirty or forty years.
The fed government will spend three times that this year. And even more next year. And even more than that the next year.
A trillion dollars for these aircraft, spread over a third of a century, is a drop in the bucket of government expenditures.
They’ll spend that much this year just subsidizing parasites.
One politician just paid over $4,000 for one screw.
Well, Social Security will cost $20T over the same period of time. Guess we’d better start taking an axe to SS since it’s so bloated.
First, this aircraft is going to cost as much as the F-22 by the time it’s ready to go. Second, any aircraft that is claimed to replace the A-10 is a fraud.
No, it’ll be fine, we just raise taxes, socialize health care, then funnel some of the money earmarked to pay for it to pay for the planes, you know, just like social security.
It’s rather deceptive to include FUEL COSTS in your estimate for the total costs of a plane.
It’s actually rather deceptive to simply report MAINTENANCE costs as well.
After all, these planes are replacing other planes, and those planes WON’T be maintained, or using fuel. And no matter what plane you fly, fuel costs are going up.
One politician just paid over $4,000 for one screw."
I just spit coffee all over mys screen.
I'm sure the auditors thoroughly investigated the effects of congressional meddling on the program as well. NOT!
Money well spent IMO.
This plane is amazing.
The Navy should drop out of this program. Other than the stealth, there is no single area of performance where the Super Hornet isn’t the better plane, especially in regards to the radar. The Super Bug has a longer range, higher top speed, bigger payload, and the safety of two engines. And its a hell of a lot cheaper. Let USAF destroy their own damn budget with this thing.
“Kelly Johnson is spinning in his grave.”
Kelly Johnson was pretty explicit in his opinion that the era of manned fighters is over, and that the services should concentrate most of their resources on unmanned planes. He’d probably think JSF was a silly concept to begin with.
This would seem to be a bad thing. When the military has an aircraft crash, what action do they take? Ground all aircraft of that model until the cause of the crash is determined.
So if the Navy version of the F-35 crashes, do all other versions of the F-35 get grounded as well? And wouldn't it be bad to have so much of our air power grounded simultaneously?
Great example of how to lie with numbers. They're including the whole cost of operations for the ~life~ of the aircraft. Including fuel, and probably pilot's salary and the costs for supporting organizations.
Gee whiz... did they include the cost of the carriers for the Navy version? Makes ya wonder.
Money well spent, if that's all it is.
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