JSF Costs Rocket 50 Percent

JSF Costs Rocket 50 Percent

The Pentagon will tell Congress that the Joint Strike Fighter is roughly 50 percent more expensive than it was in 2002 and will breach the Nunn-McCurdy cost limits “in a few days,” Pentagon acquisition czar Ash Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Carter told the committee the cost increases were “unacceptable.” The Pentagon has “to wrestle this back into some realistic box.”

Unit costs will climb from $50.2 million to as much as $95 million a copy, Christine Fox, director for Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, said in her testimony

The Government Accountability Office’s director of acquisition and sourcing management testified that the GAO unit cost estimate is about $112 million. A congressional aide who follows the program told DoD Buzz that the unit costs were likely to be even higher. “You are looking at least $112 million JSFs, with estimates as high as $137 million – average unit procurement costs.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, wanted names. “I need to know whose fault it is,” she said. “Is it the contractors fault? How much at fault was the military?”

Carter told her he thought “there is responsibility on both the government’s side and the contractor’s side.” And he mentioned the removal of Maj. Gen. Heinz as program head along with elevation of the job to three-star level.

Even though Carter and his team have known the program was in trouble back in November, they won’t notify Congress until what would seem to be the all-too-appropriate April Fool’s Day. And they won’t finish the Nunn-McCurdy review required by law until this summer. Fox, director for CAPE, said in her testimony that, “the Department plans to complete certification review of the restructured JSF program by June, 2010.”

“The cost is really a tremendous problem,” Fox said under pressure from Sen. John McCain, top SASC Republican, who expressed disbelief that Fox could point in her testimony to the C-17 and the F-22 as “successes” for the Pentagon.

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The question is : why was this covered up from Congress for so long when those running the program could see it happening?

Still the JET I report should have started the alarm bells for Congress but no one listened.

I think its more like 65% over budget since 2001. How about Carter’s response? Is he trying to score brownie points with Gates? Carter has no clue just like Gates, Heinz was a fall guy.…lets blame the 65% overrun on Heinz. I think carter just made a fool of himself on Capital Hill. Come on people, guess who the one guy is who has been around the last four years.….GATES. Gates needs to step down. As far as Fox goes, how can the F22 be a success story? Someone needs to clean house.

I’m very familiar with all the cost overruns DoD experienced in the 1980’s when a whole series of major weapon systems were being developed and, after reading the Carter, Fox, and GAO testimony (attached above), I can tell you absolutely NOTHING has changed! Not the over-optimism, not the technical problems, not the inability of program or DoD executive management to respond and take charge, not the cost growth, and not the outcome. Absolutely nothing!

Do you think there is quite a party going on right now in Saint Louis, where they are looking at speeding up the F-15E assembly line?

This will be useful testimony in a few years when there is a full blown Congressional investigaton after the program has been killed.

The issue here is the same as with all other programs, 1). no system experts 2). No cross refferencing 3). everyone involved in pertinent decisions is too spread out to be effective and because of this are at times not consulted.
Everyone involved in this program on the govt side (all govts) should be in one building and corresponding with each other on every issue, the airframe guy, the electronics, the hydraulics, the weapons, the fire control, the engine all need to talk out every issue or improvement or neccessary changebefore any action is made. and they should have pilots and crew chiefs from the previous generation aircraft as system experts to review the teams recommendations. (this applies to all weapons and vehicle systems),

You’d think that this would bode well for Silent Eagle and Super Hornet production… but I think you’re underestimating the greed and stupidity of Congressmen that don’t give a rat’s *** about aircraft numbers. They just want the JSF as a jobs program for their districts.

Continued: We have people and engineers running this program that have never flown anything close or other than coach or first class passengers. If the engine guy makes a change that could affect any of the other aspects of the program as well, such as airframe, skin, or electronics connections/ routing and equipment placement, all these changes require contract adjustments and new plans that add cost that probably wasnt even neccessary due to other aspects. Ammo guys need to be across the hall from gun guys, same for artillery, and they all need to know how thier component works in real life (not just on paper) and affects the system as a whole.

Continued: A good example using another product line; Lake city decided in order to reduce tooling and save cost would stop punching the case mouths which also provided a slight chamfer to the case mouth. Ok they saved money but here is how it affected the weapon _ Now during insertion of the projectile the sharp edges of the case shaves the copper jacket of the projectile, during firing these shavings clogg the barrel and gas tube (you can actualy see the shavins on most rounds) this reduces the life of the barrel and acuracy of the weapon (sometimes less than 1000 rds). The contractor for the ammo saves money on that 20.00 punch every month they no longer use but the military now has to spend $1,000.00 each to repair 1000 rifles a month. See the hidden snowball effect that could have been avoided if people were more knowledgeable and talked to each other rather than being over protective of thier system. We need a major overhaul of how we do business.

Good Afternoon Folks,

Something that came through this AM but I don’t have any conformation from another source so I won’t swear by it, but I was told that as a cost cutting measure LM has removed a “critical fuse panel” and the interior fire suppression system from the cockpit.

My source, who could be an unhappy employees of LM, said that this would become critical if an F-35 were ever hit by a missile that set the plane on fire. Critical electrical systems wouldn’t shut down and the lack of fire suppression wouldn’t give the pilot empugh time to exit the disabled air craft.

If in fact this is true, it would show that LM values saving a few bucks over the lives of American pilots. As said before American service personals lives are expendable, corporate profits are not.

I think the underlying problem is that the people running the defence industry have become business-men. Their first priority is to deliver and get payed, not to deliver what they think is the best possible piece of equipment for the military. There is simply no support for that kind of thinking in their organisations, so when something turns out to be not-as-great-as-persived they dont stop and re-think the design — they just steam-wheel ahead. And as long as they meet the last dead-line they feel that they have done a good job, even if they missed all other dead-lines and the product they deliver is so flawed that it never passes operational testing.

It is of course the governments fault that it has turned in to this, because it has choosen not to punish companies that has delivered sub-standard equipment. Until it starts doing that we will continue to see these kinds of procurement problems.

The headline alone is a clear example of the MISREPORTING on the F-35. Costs are not ‘rocketing’. And the causes of past cost escalaltions have been & continue to be addressed.



Nothing has been covered up. JET is NOT an indication of the ACTUAL state of the program but the worst case sceneario of how bad it COULD get ignoring all the progress the program has made.

We the people have got to put a stop to all the “government” spending because we all know they are not going to.

I would also like to see the day that an F-22 squadron makes a combat deployemnt and put under the microscope just like they did the V-22 but guess what the V-22 excelled on its combat deployments and has proven to be a very reliable aircraft.

We need to redo the contracts for all military equipment so that if there even minor cost overruns the management at the company is held responsible. The DOD program heads and the General’s in charge of the program are all transient. They spend maybe 3yrs in the program while the management at the defense contractors spend 15–20 yrs on a program.

The JSF should probably be cancelled if these costs are true

If this thing gets any more expensive we might as well just buy F-22’s, at least it can dogfight if need be.

Unless we go up against a country with and advanced AA net or a capable Air Force i dont think that will ever happen due to the cost of the aircraft.

So how is it that JET II validated JET I data and in 12 months between JET I & II–the program fell 8 months further behind schedule? The JET was a compromise amongst a number of experts–the JET is not the worst case–there were some experts on the JET team that thought it was much worse than the final JET report.

I am guessing you are referring to the late Kelly Johnson, of SR-71, F-104 and U2 fame. Kept his production and design teams on tight leashes, and demanded tight integration and lean practices. Are such principles even possible any more in aerospace ?


JET II didn’t validate anything. It was simply another review of the program and another warning of how bad things COULD GET if you ignor all the progress that has been made.



The F-35 is getting LESS EXPENSIVE TO PRODUCE/PROCURE with each & every lot. By the time it reaches IOC we will have already procured a number of lots at <$100 million unit flyaway. In fact with production cost tracking BELOW projections, LM estimates that with the existing procurement budget we could procure 90 ADDITIONAL aircraft over the life of the program (obviously like all these other cost ‘projections’ it is just that a PROJECTION).

The continuing comments from some about the JET reports being worst case scenarios ignores the fact that the 2008 report has been completely accurate across the board on the current state of the JSF program. At this point, the 2009 JET report should be viewed as the gospel in terms of predicting exactly what we are seeing today. Then add the recent DOT&E report, the latest GAO information and it all adds up to a fighter program in the ditch.

How much worse does it need to get people, before someone puts an end to this stupidity? How can we base 95% of our future fighter force on this flying disaster? How is this better then a tested and flying F-16, F-18, and F-22?

Funny Congress asking for the names of who’s fault it is. They own some of the culpability here just as well as the PM, PEO and MDA. Have any of you actually looked at this chart? https://​acc​.dau​.mil/​I​F​C​/​i​n​d​e​x​.​htm

Any program that has to go through all this bureaucracy is guaranteed to grow in cost and schedule. By the way, every office and person that requires “approval” in order for a program to get through, owns a piece of the schedule and cost. Get your heads out of your asses people! Let the PM’s be a PM and get out of the way.

I say again — Wake up America!

You can throw as much money as you can borrow from the rest of the world at the JSF Program. LMT senior executives will love you for it but the truth is the JSF is already totally irrelevant and, moreover, ain’t going to do the job.

The JSF Program should have got an Oscar this week for Best Comedic Farce in the over 300 billion dollar category.

America, you are being duped and, mores the pity, you just don’t know it and you are allowing your friends and allies to be duped along with you.

As seen elsewhere — does this sound familiar?

GFC, anyone?

The most important consideration now is, “Will the JSF do the job?”

Have just finished reading the Air Power Australia analysis of the Russian PAK-FA.



There appears to be no reason to doubt what this analysis says but even if what has been presented is even half correct, the F-35A JSF is a dead duck if it has to go up against this machine (or the Sukhoi Su-35S).

Why are we buyihg something that is already irrelevant and, even worse, are being asked to pay through the nose for it?

They did remove those parts, not for cost reasons but for weight. First they found weak spots in the aircraft that they had to reinforce, but the reinforcement made the plane too heavy and so they needed to cut some weight…

It’s always been a business deal. “After all, the chief business of the American people is business.” Calvin Coolidge, 1925

It’s just money. Don’t get your panties in a bunch. What does it cost to print a million dollars? Like 50 cents?


Every objective indication is that the JET II report is realistic not “how bad it could get”. Even Carter & Gates are now saying that. Based on program performance to-date it could get a lot worse. Every time the JPO or LMCO have claimed that improved performance is right around the corner they have failed to meet those optimistic predictions. The OT&E reports state that the “models” that were going to be relied upon to save testing are not getting validated. Therefore more things will have to be tested and that will lead to more delays and more cost over-runs. Also, since only 3% of the testing is completed any new problem found will also increase cost and delay the program.

APA are doing educated guesses, they have a point to what they are saying but they dont KNOW how either the F-35 or the PAK-FA will turn out — or if any of the two will make it to production even.

Its interesting to read the stuff they produce at APA, but its not the whole truth and its not unbiased.

The JSF story is better than fiction, if it were’t such a tragedy for our fighting men and women. All of the above commentary is right to a degree. It’s not a dog fighter, it can’t carry the weapons load it needs to, its costly and getting worst, the contractor and government officials should be held accountable (they’ve known all along that the schedule and cost were not realistic), etc., etc., etc. So why not fall back to a known quantum and by more of the stuff that works? F-16, F/A-18s. which are the aircraft F-35 is scheduled to replace. That’s a reasonable alternative until the F-35 is finally readied and fully tested.


I was thinking the exact same thing! LMAO, you’ve got to be kidding me with this new cost estimate.

It is not only JET that believe that the F-35 hasn’t solved all its problems yet. The GAO, whos job it is to keep trac of these things, are concerned. And they should know since (1) it is their job and they have access to all the facts (unlike the rest of us), and (2) they dont have any incentiv to write it either up or down (unlike the people/companies/congressmen who stand to gain or loose from the success or failure of this program). Read the new GAO report (http://​gao​.gov/​p​r​o​d​u​c​t​s​/​G​A​O​-​1​0​-​5​20T) if you dont believe me.

Cocidius & Weaponhead,

Obviously neighter of you have even bother to read the reposts.

The program is curently months behind schedule NOT 2+ years.

OK pfcem, 36 months if that makes you happy. Isn’t that the A model IOC slip now!

DOT&E Excerpts:
“Continued production concurrent with the slow increase in
fl ight testing over the next two years will commit the DoD
and Services to test, training, and deployment plans with
substantial risk.

The current roadmap indicates that 50 percent of models
will be accredited during the fi nal year of fl ight testing, an
approach with substantial risk.

to be continued


During FY09, the test team accumulated only 12 test fl ights
with BF-2 and four fl ight test sorties for aircraft BF-1 for
a total of 16 test fl ights of the approximately 5,000 total
planned for SDD. The approved master schedule called for
168 test fl ights, including the completion of the fi rst vertical
landing, before the end of the fi scal year. Completion of
the fi rst vertical landing has slipped from mid-2009 to
January 2010.

In the last year, schedule pressure became manifest in
software deliveries and fl ight testing. Program plans
extended the end of fl ight test for blocks 0.5, 1, 2, and 3
each by 12 months.

The mission capability of the LRIP systems is unclear.
Additionally, the Services and operational test agencies
need to better understand when and how performance
of LRIP deliveries is verifi ed and reported. Given the
developing lag in verifi cation and test execution, closing
on the capabilities planned for the fi rst three (of eight)
LRIP lots by the planned delivery dates is high risk.”

and on and on…

@ pfcem

You are obviously not a student of history — even recent history.

Take a look at the testimony of Michael Sullivan of the GAO.

The F-35A JSF was supposed to be at IOC by 2010.

IOC is not slated for 2016.

Fifth grade arithmetic shows the JSF Program, from a planning perspective, is not SIX YEARS behind schedule.

Any takers on a wager that this will slip even further out to, say, EIGHT YEARS or TEN YEARS or further?


The F-22 would also become cheaper with each and every lot also so thats a non-point. Im not saying to walk away from the JSF right now im just saying if these prices become true i would rather have the more capable fighter in my force. As you said the prices are just projections, if LM’s are right then i have no problem with it, but if the larger numbers are right it would make more sense to just buy the better aircraft that is at least already in service.


Thanks for demonstrating how you have no clue what you are talking about. The recent ‘IOC slip’ is due to a POLICY CHANGE! Deliveries have not been, are not & will not be delayed 36 months or even 12 months for that matter. The ‘difference’ now is that the USAF & USN have decided not to declare IOC until testing & evaluation is completed.

Just wait a few months for the remaining test aircraft to be delivered & watch/listen in awe (or disbelief) as the number of clopleted test flight increases at a rate I am sure you will find impossible.


Quite the opposite, I very much AM a student of history (including recent). That is why I recognize that all the media report are MISREPORTING reality, that the program is not doing anywhere near as badly as being reported. YOU should read the actual testimonies instead of the misleading medea reports.

I wager that the IOC will be declared EARLIER than 2016. The ‘projection’ of a 2016 IOC is based on delays which HAVE NOT HAPPENED & in fact are unlikley to happen to the degree projected becasue contrary to what the naysayers want people to believe SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS has been made making the projections of future delays at the same pace as the last two year NOT based on the current reality.


I never said the F-35 would be more expensive, im just saying if the price goes to what this said it should i would rather have the 22. do i believe it will get to what this article says no, if its lower then 100 mil. thats great, but IF it does go over 100 mil in full rate production it makes it less worth it.


Yes, the F-22 was projected to reach a flyaway unit cost of ~$120 million (vs the $140 million average for 60 lot 7–9) had it continued to be procured [FY2008 dollars]. Even if the USAF had been allowed to procure the 381 minimum it needs that is still ~1/8 the number of F-35s to be procured AND at a production rate less than 1/10 that of the F-35 full rate production rate.

But again, the F-35 is get LESS EXPENSIVE, not more expensive. Just watch in amazement as the ACTUAL PROCUREMTN COST steadly decreases & drops BELOW $100 million even before full rate prodution is reached.

There are two issues here:

1. A stupefying amount of money for a plane that was supposed to cost half of the now projected $112 each.
2. A stupefying amount of money for a plane with inferior baseline performance to existing 4.5 generation fighters (flying now).

Any questions?

A pretty decent overview of the “real” costs of the F-35 at Defense Talk.



Gee, a novel concept (policy?) like completing testing before you send a new aircraft to war causes a delay in IOC. Sounds like a PROGRAM DELAY to me.

Why are all of these deliveries being made before testing is completed? Oh yes 300+ useless hanger queen mistake jets to fix after development testing is completed. That should keep the depot’s busy. These mistake jets are really part of the EMD and are being made to make the unit cost seem better than they really will be.

Gosh, Weaponhead, that wasn’t very patriotic of you.

Donch’a know that what’s good for Lockheed Martin shareholders is good for America? I mean, first you get to charge the taxpayer 100+ million dollars a pop for a whole bunch of spiffy-looking things that look like combat airplanes, and then later you get to charge’em another $5 –to who knows how many more– millions apiece to actually make them work.. .sort’of . Just like all those warehoused JASSM’s but even more profitable!

It’s the LM American Way.


Ahh, remember those young and innocent days where the F-35 was such a shinning example of ignorance:

Janes 19 DEC 06: First Flight Report
Brigadier General Charles Davis, the executive officer for the air force’s F-35 Program Office, said the successful first flight provides important evidence that the programme’s aggressive deadlines and concurrent testing and production schedules can be achieved.
“It really proves the programme can step through a lot of the milestones we have planned over the next couple of years,” Gen Davis said…
Gen Davis, however, said the programme is on track and he is working with Lockheed Martin to secure a contract for six conventional and six short take-off and landing variants in 2008.
“We understand risks for schedules and we don’t see anything as a significant challenge,” said Gen Davis.


It is a projection based on fictional delays & cost increases THAT HAVE NOT HAPPENED YET & in fact unlikely to happen.

LRIP lot costs have been BELOW projections. At the rate the LRIP cost has been dropping the LRIP per unit average is going to be close to $112 million. And that is less than 20% of the planned total production run, the OTHER 80+% will be <$100 million each.

An get this, from the previous procurements schedule MORE F-35 were to have been procured in FY2012 than in FY2007-2011 COMBINED (118 vs 112)! And even that only 1/2 the full rate production of 230 each year.

That ‘notations-on-the-cost-of-the-f-35-and-other-aircraft-24627′ is complete hogwash. New Block 50/52 F-16s cost ~$45 million. Comparing the cost of fighters built in the 1960s-1990’s to the cost of fighters today is disingenuous at best — you COULD NOT build a F-4 of F-16 today for the same inflation adjusted cost as when they were built.


You don’t get it. The IOC change DOES NOT mean we will not be getting F-35s until then, they are still being procured & delivered reguardless of id IOC is 2013 or 2016. If the F-35A is needed to go to war in 2014 the 50+ operational we have then would do so IOC declared or not.

Deliveries are being made prior to testing being completed because we NEED thes new aircraft BEFORE testing is completed. And just what makes you think they will all be ‘mistake jets’? Not to mention the sooner & more aircraft you procure the sooner the cost goes down.


You are the one that does’t get it. Your assumption is that SDD/EMD is unnecessary. We can just build airplanes on the hope they they will work with no testing, no OT&E program… We can even go to war with none of this testing completed. Name one example of this approach actually working.

We don’t need 300+ mistake jets that have to be torn down and rebuilt to have any use. The most likely outcome for those jets is that they will be too hard to retrofit with all the fixes from SDD and they will park them at Davis-Monthan or use them to practice putting out fires etc. Mark my words, when EMD testing is completed (if that ever happens), the JPO will simply say that it is cheaper to buy new F-35s than to fix the mistake birds.


Nonsense, I know full well the importance of testing & evaluation. I have made NO indication whatsoever that it is not important. I am simply pointing out that the ‘IOC slip’ is due to a POLICY CHANGE, we are still ordering & recieving F-35s each & every year and there ACTUAL physical staus will be the same whether the USAF stayed with the previous 2013 IOC or delays IOC.

What was covered up from Congress? Congress has access to information on the program you can only dream of seeing.

Any reaction please! The Danish have admitted the JSF is not their first choice anymore. It is now only one of three to choose from. I know the Danish are not the biggest customer for the JSF. But the Norwegians and the Dutch are following close behind. The cost isseu is the biggest problem, but also the operational date (what will it be 2015 of even later).
The Super Hornet has proven itself and the Gripen NG is price garanteed (with also civil compensation). Both are looking good, and the JSF is looking worse every month.
The JSF will be a good plane (almost no doubt) but at what cost, and when will it come (full operational, series 3 or 4?)

Let’s see, who should have been fired/should be fired? The visioneers who concoted a need for this program? Those who approved it? Those who agreed to finance it? Those who let it spiral out of control, time wise and financially? How about firing those who won’t change the way we procure large systems so these programs all become part of a self fulfilling prophecy?

Complete the program. At least we have something to fly while we figure who we were planning on flying them against. And start saving for the next plane. The $500 million dollar replacement.

This is a dead end. Scratch the program and have skunk works develop a plane. (after kicking the bureaucrats out of there.)
They have always managed to do their job and build lasting planes (B52, U2, SR71) that not only did the job but exceeded it. The Air Force needs to have the freedom to decide what they actually need and have that build. To make it even better, improve the F16, F15 and F18 and stick with those proven platforms.

The skunks developed the B52???!!!! Wait till Boeing finds THAT out! The fact is, Skunk Works DID develop the F35. But who better than folks who built 4500 F-16’s (an incredible success by any standard) to build thousands of F-35’s. And sorry to disappoint all the F-22 fans out there, the F-35 is a significantly better, much more affordable weapon system. Yes, the F-22 is impressive at air shows and will eliminate any adversary if any are able to launch, but F-35’s significantly superior sensor fusion, stealth and operational affordability will distinguish it from all others. History will be very kind to the F-35.


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