Discovered this article by the Star-Telegram (and use the link in the Ref section below to read the entire article) that was posted on April 6, 2010.
What a surprise!? Costs for the F-35 program, when inflation is also counted in, have gone up. Once upon a time, it was tought that a F-35 would come out with a per unit cost of $62 million (with a purchase over time of 2, 457 airframes). That estimate was given in the year 2002. Now in 2010, that cost per airframe will no doubt rise to $133.6 million when inflation is included in the figures.
The average cost of the F-35 has risen 57% before the Pentagon included inflation. And it is STILL rising!
Builder of the F-35, Lockheed Martin spokesman Chris Geisel replied in a email (to the Star-Telegram I assume) the following quote: "We can foresee no scenario in which the F-35 unit costs are even close to the projections... cited in the Inside Defense article."
Foreign countries that were thinking about getting the F-35 are now re-thinking their decision. Boeing's F-18 E/F looks better and better to them all the time. Plus this blogger thinks the re-vamping of the F-15 would be a wiser decision to make. Or even buying Typhoons from the Europeans would be better than this F-35 headache. I mean, what is Great Britain going to put on the decks of her two new aircraft carriers if this cost turkey isn't put under a cost control plan?
Mr. Geisel also said, and I'm quoting from the article, ..the actual cost of building airplanes is now trending lower than expected. "We believe the final price per aircraft will be well below the independent estimates the government has adopted."
My opionion - By allowing our defense industry to consolidate itself like it did over the past 20-30 years; our nation is now at risk of being unable to AFFORD to purchase the weapon systems it needs to protect the country.
I might also add the following.
It makes great "copy" to say that the USA has the finest weapon systems in the world. But if they COST so damn much that you cannot use them (or I might also add here, train with them) - then they are really worthless investments. We're getting 270 something F-22s! Thats it!
Over the next 30 years, lets guess that there will be some training accidents. Lets say 5 per decade. Thats 15 airframes right there. Then, if they are ACTUALLY used in combat, that loss level will no doubt go up. So after 30 years and maybe one 'warm' war that we really get some usage out of those remaining airframes.. What are you going to guess our fleet level for the F-22 will be at. 250? 245? 240? 230 working airframes maybe?
I now write this with my tongue planted in cheek, but we should really give consideration to buying a few squadrons of Mig-29s or Su-27s from the Russians!
Ref. Star-Telegram.com. April 6, 2010. "Cost estimate for F-35 to soar, Pentagon says" by Bob Cox. (http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/04/06/2094443/cost-estimate-for-f-35-to-soar.html).
image taken from a google search request.
F-15 Silent Eagle blog post (http://aerospacedreams.blogspot.com/2009/06/f-15-silent-eagle-movie-on-dew-line.html).