Analyst: F-35C to Cost $337 Million Apiece in FY15

Analyst: F-35C to Cost $337 Million Apiece in FY15

A longtime defense analyst and critic of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program says taxpayers next year will pay between $148 million and $337 million per jet, depending on the model.

Winslow Wheeler, a staff member at the Project On Government Oversight who has worked on national-security issues for the Senate and the Government Accountability Office, detailed his cost estimates for the Lockheed Martin Corp.-made fifth-generation stealth fighter in a recent article on Medium​.com.

Wheeler puts the per-plane production price tag at $148 million for the Air Force’s F-35A, which can take off and land on conventional runways; $251 million for the Marine Corps’ F-35B, which can fly like a plane and hover and land like a helicopter; and $337 million for the Navy’s F-35C, which can take off and land on aircraft carriers. The average cost for all three variants is $178 million, he wrote.

“This data is the empirical, real-world costs to buy, but not to test or develop, an F-35 in 2015,” he wrote. “They should be understood to be the actual purchase price for 2015—what the Pentagon will have to pay to have an operative F-35.”

Wheeler derived the estimates using recent figures from the Senate Appropriations Committee. The figures don’t include research and development costs, but do include funding from the previous year’s appropriations act for “advance procurement” and from aircraft modifications.

Wheeler rejects the use of an aircraft’s so-called flyaway cost to describe its true expense because, he wrote, “those airplanes are incapable of operative flight. They lack the specialized tools, simulators, logistics computers — and much, much more — to make the airplane usable. They even lack the fuel to fly away.”

Michael Rein, a spokesman for Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed’s F-35 program, didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment to the article.

Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the Pentagon’s F-35 program office, disputed Wheeler’s estimates, saying they’re misleading and don’t reflect what the department contracts for the planes.

Under the most recent production contract with Lockheed, the department in 2013 agreed to pay $112 million per F-35A, $139 million per F-35B and $130 million per F-35C, DellaVedova said. Those figures, known as unit recurring flyaway costs, include the airframe, engine, mission systems, profit and concurrency, he said.

The government has also shifted from bearing all the financial risk in the program to sharing it with Lockheed and Pratt & Whitney, which makes the F135 engine for the single-engine fighter, DellaVedova said in an e-mail. The contractors now cover 100 percent of any cost overruns and 50 percent of concurrency costs, he said.

“Affordability is the No. 1 priority for the F-35 program,” he said. “You can have the best airplane in the world, but if nobody can afford it, it does you no good. We are doing all we can to drive prices down and we are making a difference.”

Kevin Brancato, a senior defense analyst at Bloomberg Government, said in an e-mail that Wheeler’s estimates appear to be correct, but emphasized that the vast majority of the differences between the unit cost of the variants in fiscal 2015 is due to spreading nonrecurring and support costs over fewer aircraft.

Nonrecurring costs include production tooling, money for buying out parts that will be difficult to source later and money for cost-reduction initiatives, while support costs pay for engineering related to production, he said.

“The Navy’s C variant will be far more expensive in FY15 than the other variants because the Navy will pay $170 million in nonrecurring costs and $247 million in support costs while buying only two aircraft,” Brancato said. “That’s $416 million in total, or $208 million per jet, before the cost of airframes, electronics and engines.

“In contrast, the nonrecurring and support costs are $78 million for each Marine Corps B variant, and just $37 million for each Air Force A variant,” he said. “For fiscal 2015, the Marines requested six jets and the Air Force requested 26.”

Meanwhile, recurring unit production costs — the airframes, electronics and engines — will continue to decline for the F-35A and F-35B, Brancato said. For the F-35C, the number being built will drop to two from four, which will drive up the cost of the airframe, yet the cost of the electronics and engines will still go down, he said.

The Joint Strike Fighter is the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons acquisition program, estimated to cost a total of $398.6 billion for a total of 2,457 aircraft. That breaks down to a per-plane cost of $162 million, including research and development.

The Pentagon in its budget for fiscal 2015, which begins Oct. 1, requested $8.3 billion for 34 of the aircraft, including 26 F-35As, 6 F-35Bs and 2 F-35Cs. The House Appropriations Committee voted to buy an additional four aircraft, for a total of 38, while the Senate panel agreed with the Pentagon’s request — a difference that will have to be resolved in conference negotiations.

The fighter jet missed its highly hyped international debut in the United Kingdom earlier this month. It was scheduled to appear for the first time at three events in the U.K., culminating with a flight demonstration at the Farnborough International Air Show outside London. But the aircraft was a no-show after an engine fire in one of the planes resulted in a fleet-wide grounding and subsequent flight restrictions.

(Story was updated to include quotes from F-35 program office spokesman.)

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INSANITY! The F-22 was done to 140 mill/plane when it was cancelled. We are doomed.

Do you get fries with that? alex

I don’t see why this is a problem. We paid them more to make the airplanes ultra expensive. That must have been what we wanted, right?

Whatever happened to Australia potentially buying the C variant for its longer range? Just too expensive?

Remember Norm Augustine’s projection that, based on average cost trendlines for fighter aircraft, that eventually the entire defense budget would be consumed by a single aircraft? Which would have to be shared by the Navy and Air Force? Well, we’re getting there!

Alex, I’ll take “Failed Program” for five hundred billion, please.

The real Pacific Pivot that needs to be made by the US Navy is a pivot toward a very different aircraft suitable to use in the western Pacific theater against a peer level adversary.

US Navy needs an optionally manned, twin engine, fast, stealthy, long range, CATOBAR fighter bomber.

F-35C is most certainly _not_ that aircraft.

Stop wasting precious resources developing an aircraft that won’t do the job. Execute the pivot toward building the aircraft that is needed.

Ill keep saying it less this JSF crap andmore Raptor and Eagles we NEED!!!!

Somehow I doubt the next program will be better.

Right, because those will land on a carrier.

ok those costs work out to be approx 5.5 F-35s for a Arleigh Burke Destroyer

So what ‘s most useful 5 1/2 F-35s or a Arleigh Burke Destroyer, the answer is obvious to any one with common sense

With their twin engine configuration they certainly stand a better chance of making it back, especially considering how temperamental the F-35’s power plant has been so far. The F-18 was developed from a fighter designed for land based operations, perhaps looking in to a carrier variant of an eagle or raptor should be explored.

Yeah, the F-18. Now there’s a glowing success story. Let’s follow that act.

Time to open the F-22 production line, and cut the F-35 “buy” by 1/3 (minimum). While we’re at it; time to force the generals/admirals that are dead set on buying just the F-35, and also the LCS. Maybe they can still get a job with the companies they love so much, after military retirement. The generals we have today sure couldn’t measure up to their predecessors!

Look, we all realize you have nothing but snark to offer here, but next to $300 million a pop for a carrier based fighter that can’t execute the missions it was designed for the F-18 doesn’t look too bad. Cost aside, you completely missed the point of the Hornet comparison, so I’ll draw you a picture: the hornet proves fighters designed for land based operations can be adapted for carrier ops as well. OP mentioned that legacy platforms and Raptor could theoretically replace the F-35; you brought up the C variant, and I pointed out that you don’t know what you’re talking about (speaking of glowing success stories).

As I recall, the Navy chose the F-18E/F over the “carrier modified” version of the F-22 that Lockheed proposed for the NATF program of the early 1990s. Call me a cynic, but I’m just not ready to believe that the same Lockheed who sucked the government coffers dry on both F-22 and F-35 will provide a carrier version of the F-22 for a reasonable price.

Then Navy buys hammers too, but they’re not very useful in the air superiority role either. I don’t know why anyone thinks that if the Navy keeps doing the same thing over and over again the next time it will result in something good. It just doesn’t work that way.

That’s certainly a reasonable position, but at this point just about anything with two engines and a radar looks better than the F-35C. Personally, I think what we need is a two engined aircraft with some serious legs (tomcat II?), not necessarily a stealthy airframe but high thrust/weight ratio and long range are a must. I know the F-35 has a decent T/W, but for carrier strike packages where half or more of them will have to be laden with ordnance they will be nothing more than the world’s slowest, least capable, most expensive F-16. At the end oft he day I think we should acquire a few hundred A’s and B’s for the SEAD mission, design an anti-radiation missile that can actually fit in their internal bays, and call it a day. There’s no reason to buy 2000 fighters that can’t run, can’t turn, and can’t fight.

Fortunately LM has never tried to mislead us. Oh wait. Also the F-35C is 15 percent overweight compared to its 2002 configuration. It is also very far away from passing an OPEVAL (pencil-whipped or otherwise). As for any useful combat capability, good luck with that. Emerging threats will have no problem dealing with it.

Emerging threat? That was so predictable.

Okay, $337m is a big number, but .…you get a free borescope with every plane, for those pesky every-three-hour engine inspections.

If a stealth airplane is in a dogfight it’s stealth is useless. The F-35 was designed, correctly, as a hit and run fighter. It has extensive passive sensors all around the airplane that spot enemy aircraft giving it a first look, first kill capability that will be unparalleled. People who know about airplanes know the F-35 is better all around than the F-22. Could I design a better stealth fighter? Oh hell yes. Are you going to get a better airplane for less money from canceling the F-35 and starting over again? F no!

Not just better radars, electro-optical. Once in the vicinity, visual aids will lock on it and no flare will prevent the missile from hitting its target.

Did anybody here actually bother reading the article? Tell me what makes Winslow Wheeler’s cost figures more accurate than the differing cost figures everybody else like Joe DellaVedova have? This is the same guy who’d call the F-15 an overcomplicated gold-plated aircraft and he has only gotten more crazy as time has gone on. He has a vested interest in attacking all of these programs. The “Straus Military Reform Project” he works for clearly isn’t in touch with reality when they list the Army’s M1 MBT and M2 IFV as “controversial and hugely expensive disappointments”. According to them the same is true of the Navy’s Aegis missile defense system so I suppose they don’t think we should even bother building warships.

Sure, they just have to get past all of the incoming missiles to get within effective range of their IR sensors/weapons.

Or fit a destroyer sized radar into a fighter.

So you want stealth, speed, agility, large payload, and long range, which will necessitate a large aircraft with two engines in the same general class as the F119. You also want optionally manned though I would question the utility of that feature in such an aircraft.

Do you think designing, building, testing, and operating this aircraft will be cheap? How will you prevent the same cost overruns and delays the F-35 has encountered?

Guys — to fund shipbuilding the USN has cut F-35C procurement to 2 next year.

If you only order 2 of anything worldwide you pay a big premium. That was USN choice to fund ships.

That is why the F-35A costs half as much because USAF is buying about 30.

Well, that and the fact it is not unit cost. The author has a basic misunderstanding of how the US Military funds programs. Until IOC, the entire cost of the program (training, training development, testing, procurement, routine flying, program office, engineering development, etc) is counted in the contract. So yes, if you divide it up by the number purchased it seems expensive. If you were to break it down, the cost is something north of 140 million. Not cheap, but not $337million either.

Apparently not. All those diagnostic tools arent ready yet– if ever.

Even if the F-35 is the biggest turkey ever (I’m not liking what I’m reading), God will protect us if we humble ourselves, give up our sins, and pray for the USA to be healed. God will do it. May we trust Him!

first, you listen to the contractor, if they tell you this plane cant be built correctly or with their spec, you listen to them. then don’t use a contractor that couldn’t produce the last airplane you bought(f-22). then improve the planes that work good for their mission. do you ever hear about problems with building the superhornet? it’s a very different plane than the hornet. but they fixed the problem that the hornet had with minimum problems. they should have done the same with the tomcat, intruder, eagle, thunderbolt etc. you just tweek the designs to fix any issues or do major designs to improve it. this is just off the top of my head, and as far as stealth, only the airforce needed it during desert storm.

Typical media — headline only includes the most expensive model for sensationalism.

That is the same thing Robert E. Lee thought when he sent Pickett through an open field at Gettysburg. How did that work out?

Rather have 8 Super Hornets and Growlers for the cost of 1 F-35C

Of course JRT’s proposed aircraft would be expensive, but at least they’d have something worth the price and very useful to the fleet once it was ready. Considerable delays in development could be avoided by not levying a STOVL requirement onto the aircraft.

Sounds like the Navy is being smart by trying to make lemonade out of the lemons they’re being handed.

Let the other services by most of the early ‘mistake’ jets. That’s less modification money the Navy will have to spend later to fix these early production blocks.

Just remember, you DO have to purchase spare engines and parts, plus set up supply sources and chains for any new weapons system. That does get added into the intial price tag. I dont know how many of you are old enough to remember how big of a boone doogle everyone thought the F-16 was and the controversy behind the fly by wire problems was, but now they pump them out cheap as dirt. It takes time and growing pains, the prices will come down.

Typical hit piece by someone whom has no clue how the development of a new weapon system works. The first models off the prouction line are always more expensive as the Analyst note the Navy now has to buy all the special equipment to use and mainatain the jet — “They lack the specialized tools, simulators, logistics computers — and much, much more — to make the airplane usable.”.
Under the stupid logic of this Analyst we can never afford a new weapon system becuase we have to buy new support equipment to operate it.
Well Mr. “DA” Wheeler so did the Navy have to do that (buy the support equipment) each time when it bought the F-2, F-3, F-4, F-6, F-7, F-14, F-18 and a-1, A-3, A-5, A-6, A-7 and .….
Or should we still being flying Hellcats and Corsairs of the flight deck since we bought the support equipment for those in the 1940s and its already paid for.

If you want the most advanced Navy and Airforce in the world, well folks it costs money to develop, build, operate, and maintain. The F-14 & F-18 can not fly into China or Russia and attack targets without getting shot down, the F-35 with its Stealth which is 100 times better than a F-18 can do that. Its EW systems on each jet are only matched by the F-18G which has no attack capability at all.

If you want a super jet that can defeat any enemey currently flying and any current air defense system currently built, then you got one so stop the whining if you want a 21st century Naval Airforce.

I do believe we need more F-22s but it was not up to me and I was against the cancellation of the program by Obama, and before we all jump on Obama, the Bush Admin tried to cancel the program too but the House and Senate controlled by the GOP fought him on that. With loosing the House and Senmate to the Dems in 2008, that pretty much sealed its (F-22) fate.

8 fof those do not cost the same as 1 F-35 read the article or my comments, he is includung non-jet (F-35) costs.

We drank the grape juice when LM said “oh you betcha, we can do it for 70 million” back when ~100 million flyaway was “too much”.

Unsure where we will be at for the F-35, but it’s been an expensive journey. Lockheed shareholders, you’re welcome.

Inshallah, Deus Vult, it’s all the same to you isn’t it?

Probably due to a very minimal set of requirements that went into the Technical Demonstrator.

Is the shape interchangeable between A, B and C configurations? Yes. VL capability works as intended? Yes. Internal weapons bay and ability to fly the appropriate combat radius (or drop munitions) not tested.

And there you have it, the X-35.

I suppose we could’ve just went with the X-35 as a next-generation fighter without internal payloads, then opted for stealthy conformal weapons pods or low RCS missiles and bombs instead. We would probably be forced to accept the far less rosy range estimates that come with sticking to the original design and adjusting our expectations, instead of adjusting our wallets.


Vertical take off and landing has not, to this point, slowed down anything in the JSF program. It kept you from getting that ugly piece of crap Boeing designed (X-32). For the most part the delays in the F-35 program have come from the usual source, that being the fact that Lockheed’s standard military contract pays them more the longer they can drag out development.

The published “jet only” costs typically don’t include the engine in their figures, and therefore aren’t a true representation. There’s definitely some R&D costs bleeding in to guess fingers but it is reasonable to speculate that including the costs of the engine is a better representation of total cost.

How are you supposed to hit with just a couple outdated medium range missiles and then run from a flanker that’s almost 600 knts faster than you? There’s no escaping that. Besides that fairly troubling point, every time we’ve predicted the death of dogfighting we’ve been wrong. I don’t think we should make that bet again, at least not with an aircraft that doesn’t stand a chance in one.

Lockheed M.…..was that tag with/without the directed energy laser/phaser wpn system?? lolol

Yeah, right… When’s the last time the US made an attack upon the homeland of a thermonuclear ICBM-armed nation?

If the Flanker can’t see it beyond 5 miles out, what’s it going to run after? Now would it be better if the F-35 was faster and more maneuverable? Sure. Those are nice to have, but stealth is essential. It is a huge game changer. Will it become less important as technology marches on? Yes, of course it will. Technology advancements in weapons are like that, but even so we still did not start painting our airplanes day glo orange with the advent of radar, did we? Stealth is always important whether it is the Hun in the sun or flat gray paint or the ability to reflect radar away from a transmitter/receiver.

F-35’s at nearly 350 mil. Insane. We need to press these contractors/stop the kick backs. May-be it’s time to put these assets into action. Soon it’ll be too late. May-be that’s our fate. We shouldn’t let corporate America or these self-serving “elected” officials, destroy this nation.

That was a “technical” issue. Conferate artillery overshooting the Yankee front line.

By the time the F-35 enters service it will be a stealth aircraft in name only, making high performance essential to survive in any engagement. Moreover, even today it is widely surmised that the F-35 is only stealthy from certain angles; even a rudimentary understanding of physics should show you that when you turn to run you will be presenting one of your least stealthy aspects, but if you don’t maintain distance your RCS will increase dramatically anyway. In an aircraft that will generate a return when not presenting it’s best aspect to the emitter it is essential to make tracks away from the area you gave a return in, something the F-35 is I’ll equipped to do.

Costs: Navy budget book: http://​www​.finance​.hq​.navy​.mil/​F​M​B​/​1​5​p​r​e​s​/​A​P​N​_​BA1

Recurring flyaway total cost = $273 million in FY15, with a gross weapons system unit cost of $344 million each for 2 carrier variants (F35C)
Recurring flyaway total cost = $833 million in FY15, with a gross weapons system unit cost of $217 million each for 6 aircraft (F35B)

Air Force: http://​www​.saffm​.hq​.af​.mil/​s​h​a​r​e​d​/​m​e​d​i​a​/​d​o​c​u​m​e​nt/

Recurring flyaway total cost = $2,934 million in FY15, with a gross weapons system units cost of $50 million each for 26 aircraft (F35A)

Coorection (typo): That’s $150 million for each Air Force F35A variant.

According to their budget documents, the Air Force projects $121 million each for 1,763 F35A’s (the plain-Jane cheapest). The Navy projects $149 million each for 311 F35B’s (the most expensive becasue of the vertical lift turbo-fan and tilt-down aft engine; and $159 million each for 336 F35C’s (bigger wings for slow landings and reinforced undercarriage). Total procurement costs = $312 billion for 2,410 operational aircraft. R&D is extra. So is operational mods.

Agree that there’s little incentive for LockMart to complete the development in a timely manner, but the three S’s really do impact overall development difficulty (stealthy, supersonic, stovl). F-35 development has been complicated by the requirement to meet all three S’s, something never really attempted before (at least not outside the black world). As even the advocates must acknowledge, this has proven extremely challenging. In hindsight, it was a mix of arrogance and foolhardiness by the Pentagon and LockMart to attempt to develop such a platform, much less develop one that was going to cost only as much as an F-16.

>Or fit a destroyer sized radar into a fighter.

By now a B-2 will have ELF capability, which AFAIK had a looooong antenna and was used by the navy. What make you seriously think that technology can’t make that possible, its size?

According to 2013 Selected Acquisition Report (SAR) summary, total “acquisition” cost — R&D and procurement — is $400 billion, with another $1,016 billion (that’s $1 trillion) for life cycle support.

$166 million average acquisition costs (R&D and Procurement).
$588 million average over entire life cycle (R&D, procurment and operations)

Stealth wasn’t important to P-51 pilots over Europe. Many P-51s were left shiny to help them be seen by the Luftwaffe. They were hoping to be intercepted. They were essentially saying to the enemy ‘here we are, come on up if you dare.’ Those dudes had a couple big ones.

Not to disparage today’s pilots, but even if LockMart ever gets F-35 working as adverstised, I doubt we’ll see many shiny, silvery F-35s flying over enemy territory.

$337 million! Wow! When you subtract the $1.98 they’re actually worth.…that’s still quite a sum!!!

You say the F35B is the most expensive at $149 million each then give the cost of the F35C at $159 million each.……I don’t think we went to the same school…

The problem is the F-16 was a capable fighter aircraft. The F-35 isn’t.

They were left “shiny” to save weight and give the airplanes a performance advantage. “First look, first kill” wasn’t invented yesterday.

What you actually know about the RCS of the F-35 and what the RCS of the F-35 actually is are two completely different things.

Ladies and Gentlemen. I give you the worlds most expensive lemon. I hope upon hope, that Harper is stopped from purchasing these pieces of garbage for Canada’s aging f-18’s.

Because they cut order’s, It’s called Economy of Scale, stop being pathetic idiots who regurgitate bullshit with your fake emotional outrage and limited views.

Just my personal opinion; The generals/admirals that have any b*lls are being replaced (look at Germany pre-1939!

The army can put them on hills with a cannon.

Over-grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty –George Washington

Waste of money. Over Budget, behind schedule, underperforming, and a platform without a mission or any use in the near, or far future that’ll be worth the price. The only ones benefiting from this is the military industrial complex.


So far nothing is stopped; “stopped or “hit the reset button” are technical words for an acquisition which AFAIK got re-evaluated. By now there should be a recommendation from Public Works Canada, but so far nothing is public.

To make a short story I believe the rumor that it’s going to be delayed until the next election, perhaps a little bit more. I think they are in “wait and see” mode. If I remember well it was estimated that Canada’s cancellation would increase the cost of a mere 2–3% at most.

Maybe there is a hard limit about the cost and capabilities?

“Whatever happened to Australia potentially buying the C variant for its longer range? Just too expensive?”

Australia was never going to buy the F-35C. They have ordered 74 F-35A’s. Funny thing is they’ve ordered two Skijump style Aircraft Carriers but won’t have any fighters to fly from them. They’ll be used as Helicopter Landing Docks.

Makes you wonder why the ships have skijumps.…

When are the joint chiefs of staff going to be held accountable for this monstrosity.? Give them all a fast ticket to their retirement, now.

As it is, the US Navy doesn’t appear totally sold on a single-engine strike fighter with short legs. Especially one that needs F18 Growlers to complete it’s mission. The price is likely to go UP, not down. Unless they “jump ship” and leave the F35 to the Air Force and the Marines. Then it might cost less. In reality, not in accountant’s lingo.

The problem isn’t the potential capabilities, the problem lies with the F35’s limitations. Short legs, less maneuverable, slower… This is not “all-aspect” stealth. Still requiring jammer aircraft for the best effect. Unproven reliability, requiring additional tanker support is a less-than-optimal package. At an OVERLY premium price. At this point adequate Naval Aviation is superior to a “super” jet force which is both unaffordable and taxes existing systems. The F35 is certainly not 100x better than the SuperHornet. Especially the newer ones.

The F35 cannot defeat ANY enemy, nor was it designed to do so. It was designed as a refined and affordable strike fighter, able to hold it’s own. When used in conjunction with the F22 air supremacy fighter, as a replacement for F16s, A10s, AV8Bs, F117s, F15Es, and foreign counterparts. Now it is too expensive and precious to be used in anything but fully protected limited strikes.

Those numbers appear good. “More” or “most” expensive is a mere bag of shells.

The F-18 RCS without tanks (which it needs to have legs) is 1 sq meter.
The F-35 RCS is the size smaller than a baseball and is even golf ball size (0.005 sq m) or more importantly –30 db less than an F-18.
A Tomahawk cruise missile in 0.5 sq m. A seagull is in the –20 db range.
Other than a F-22 no other jet can sneak up to an adversary like the F-35 can. It also has an EW system just as good as a F-18G which the F-18E would need to attack Iran or China or similar advance nation.
All new aircraft have unproven reliability so did the F-18 once.
You really need to actually know what your talking about before you make so many false statements._
Here is more real data for you.
Max speed: Mach 1.8 (1,190 mph, 1,915 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m)
Range: 1,275 nmi (2,346 km) clean plus two AIM-9s[15]
Combat radius: 390 nmi (449 mi, 722 km) for interdiction mission
Max Speed (full internal weapons load) Mach 1.6 (~1,200 mph)
Combat radius — (internal fuel) >600 nm / 1,100 km
Range (internal fuel) >1,200 nm / 2,200 km
Almost Identical and the F-35 is even better than the F-18E in combat range.

But of course I see allot of jokers on military website making stupid/false claims about the F-35 as if they knew what they are talking about. Your just another big .…. with no facts to back up his false claims.

Oh fyi — F-35 can carry external fuel tanks too that can be dropped before enemy engagement.

This is false information, it includes non-aircraft purchases. did you bother to READ the article?
“Recurring flyaway total cost = $273 million in FY15, with a gross weapons system unit cost of $344 million each for 2 carrier variants (F35C) “
The navy is buying jets (2) plus a whole bunch of other stuff please read before posting numbers or at least learn what is in the numbers.

so what is your point — Bi-planes are cheaper, under 100K each? or do you prefer P-51s at 600K each??

This country spends in 1-year, on welfare (to people under 65) more than $1 trillion a year.

So yeah, over 20+ years we spend $312B and give 100s thousands good jobs. Maybe the $1 trillion a year in welfare should be 1.1 trillion a year huh !!

so, all aircraft have life cycle costs even the existing jets require 10s billions each year to keep flying.

Stupid facts with no context.

You must be one of those we should end all military spending types, more welfare for everyone !!

The F-22 Raptor was indeed cheaper, and far more capable, than the F-35 when it was killed for purely political reasons — PRECISELY to eliminate any and all alternatives to the expensive, yet useless F-35 flying pig.

VTOL (or rather STOVL) has, however, caused the F-35 to be the failure that it is, by enforcing a useless, yet unmaneuverable and heavy plane, with the same design flaws, on all three services.

No wonder why the J-31 — a supposed Chinese “copy” of the F-35 — has no STOVL lift fan and doesn’t even have room for that. Because it’s not intended to have one.

That being the thought process that gets us into this kind of FUBAR.….

That would be cool if they did a kick start program with the plans — yes I know tax payers pay for them, but what about some initial perks? Pictures, customization with naming etc.

Better to give that money to the poor than to those rich bastards that have run the once great Lockheed into the toilet.

China and Russia are already showing signs of fielding variants of aircraft that exceed the capabilities of the F35 due to the Swiss Army Knife attempt to make one aircraft do everything they actually made an aircraft that doesn’t perform at the top of any spec. There are also indications that these countries have also developed radar systems that can detect these aircraft and penetrate their so called stealth technology as well so the F35 may well be obsolete before it ever goes into service. There are numerous articles detailing the lackluster performance of this aircraft and the reasons that the compromises required by all the service branches degraded its performance profile especially the Marine corps insistence that it have a VTOL capability.

And at what price? Bankrupting the defense budget for what in reality should be the modern replacement for the F117 does us no good. That the F35 is marginally slower and less maneuverable than the not so quick and agile Super Hornet. This isn’t exactly a news flash.

You can cite stats until the cows come home. You can denigrate my intellect and observations about what is largely common knowledge too. That the F35 (and F22 for that matter) is plumbed for external tanks is hardly a revelation.

The fact of the matter is the nature of all-aspect stealth, the alternative methods of targeting aircraft, and the very limited resources our military budgets face make the F35 program a growing folly. YES, the USMC needs a replacement for the widowmaker Harrier. YES, the USAF needs a replacement for the economy-class F16 fighter. And YES, the Navy needs to replace the F18 design.

As your stats point out, the F35 is barely equal to soon to be obsolete F18. And certainly no match for agile and much faster adversarial aircraft. RCS is wonderful. And speed is life. Invisibility would be nice too. But looting the defense budget to pay for an aircraft that doesn’t do what it was intended to do (become a cheap utility AC for 3 military services) is a fool’s errand. That’s no joke.

Was never a cosideration

FWGuy: “Oh fyi — F-35 can carry external fuel tanks too that can be dropped before enemy engagement.”

FYI –Sorry, but they CANNOT. External fuel tank development and testing was dropped from the program years ago. Which you would know if you actually knew anything about the JSF program. The

Talk about “jokers on military website making stupid/false claims about the F-35 as if they knew what they are talking about.”…

TOO MUCH ! these people are insane!—They navy will have the F35c and only two carriers and the crew will be working for free…Scrap this program and make droness!

the navy ended the f-14 program as they deemed it too expensive. a proven aircraft that did everything superbly. go figure. drive a stake through t6he heart of the f-35 program.

Roger that.

Wheeler is only a self promoter, so it is not necessary to listen to him unless he tells you what you want to hear. DellaVedova is a company spokesman, so it is not necessary to listen to him either. Tell you what. Use your own eyes.Google up the government documents that say how much is paid each year for a given quantity of jets. Use the procurement number, not including R&D. It’s all there. Divide one number by the other. Voila! Wheeler’s is different. DellaVedova’s is different. I don’t know why. Both may be deceivers, using figures that can still be said to be true, but read the fine print.

Right Curt. The F-35A is in the $140 million category at the current production rate (which happens to be comparable to the F-22 rate when terminated). Both the B and C are over $200 million each, though.

You can put lipstick on a pig but it is still a pig. Total boondoggle and a child of 5 can see this is true

“if they tell you this plane cant be built correctly or with their spec, you listen to them.”

What if they lie and promise you a trail of dogs—?

I guess junk costs more these days.

Sorry the only thing that was dropped was LM Aero developing and delivering ETs at this early point, but not the capability to use them. The jet has wing hard-points with fuel connections for ET Pylons. At this point no US service has ordered them (from LM Aero) including foreign customers. But in time there will be, just like how the F-16 fuel load capability has been greatly increased well after its initial development. But currently DOD is trying to buy as many jets as it can to get production rates up, get through flight testing / OT&E, and into IOC — ASAP.

Let me let you in on a little secret — Israel has already developed ETs for the F-35 and are offering them to F-35 customers.
Elbit Systems subsidiary Cyclone Aviation is offering to supply external tanks to be carried on the F-35’s under-wing hardpoints, while Israel Aerospace Industries plans to produce conformal fuel tanks for the Israeli F-35 fighters.

So this time you are right but in the long run really Wrong.….!

LMAO… So all you have so far is some promises on paper, but nothing you can actually put fuel in, much less put fuel in with the knowledge that they can be safely jettisoned in combat.

Safe stores separation and clearance is not a cut and dried issue, as the drag-inducing canted pylons of the SuperBug clearly demonstrate. If LM and the JPO were confident it would not be a problem, the planned for external tanks would almost certainly not have been cancelled.

And you do know that conformal tanks are NOT flight-jettisonable, right?

Robert Gates killed the F-22 single handedly , he also said that we fight our enemies unfairly and that we should not give our troops the best equipment. If he had stayed in the Pentagon as the Sec. of Defense we would have an all prop Airforce right now . He also said that china & Russia would not have a fith generation stealth prototypes until the year 2020 and tried to cancel the funds that were needed to buy and properly document the F-22 production line so that if we had to ( in a National emergency ) reopen the F-22 production line to make more “True” fighters if we were in a situation in which his Do-all F-35 was getting it’s butt kicked by other “True” fighters ( not attack Jets ).
part 1

Classic case where the Sec. of Defense doesn’t listen to the actual folks who have to go out and fight the war or as with the Airforce, win the contested Airspace.
Personally i think especially now with the “smart weapons” all we need is a very good fighter (F-22 maybe with the avionics from the F-35 ) and a Stealthly Bomber ( B-2 s + NGB ) and that’s all you need to have a goodAirforcee. A Modern day P-51 and B-17 (or B-29 ), but you need a Good fighter to protect everything we do on the ground and your Bombers.
Part 2

Fire Welsh!!!!

22 Years of development at a cost of $160–334 Million Dollars Each time 2600 platforms is off any development Matrix. All we are doing is funding Lockheed Martin at a tune of 1 Trillion Dollars in sustainment cost. With over 270 Software Engineers working at 4 Software Integration Laboratories in Fort Worth working 24/7 for 20 years is absurd. Stealth is DEAD, Boeing is Selling additional EA-18G’s to the Navy and Australia due to the fact JSF cannot penetrate any IADS access denied environment. JSF must have EW/EA Jamming Support. This Platform and Lockheed Martin needs to be Stopped and put out of business. They have ripped off the American People for over 22 years with nothing to show other than an outdated platform with nothing but Software and Hardware issues from nose to tail. The Senate and DOD need to shut this down and work on other platforms and weapon systems that can do the job, not keep Lockheed Martin in the Money Collection business. The Navy and Air Force version of this PIG will not be in the Fleet now until 2021. That is 27 years after initial development. Only 11 years over schedule and Cost plus 1 Trillion in sustainment Cost. WHAT A WASTE… Congress is Worthless and the Warfighters continue to suffer because of this Platform and the Sequestration… Enough is Enough…
Here you GO!!!!!!!!!! JSF Started in 1992!!!!!!!!!!!!! 24 Years is Long Enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Welsh needs to be fired. See Info and Link Below

In 1992 the Marine Corps and Air Force agreed to jointly develop the Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter, also known as Advanced Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (ASTOVL), after Paul Bevilaqua persuaded[5] the Air Force that his team’s concept[6] had potential as an F-22 Raptor complement, stripped of the lift system. Thus in a sense the F-35B begat the F-35A, not the other way around.
General Bogdan and his staff are liars… They are on LM side. If this platform fails, they fail. The DOD brought General Bogdan in to “Fix” the issue. He has been blessed as the “Fixer and Chief”. However, I have been in meetings at the JSF/JPO and the General has lied both to the DOD and the Senate on numerous occasions . Unfortunately like to the CIA there is no oversight or integrity provided by the JSF/JPO or the DoD. The JSF acquisition process is being done in a closet so no one will no the true status. After 22 years it is a waste and everyone associated with JSF know this is fact. Just like the CIA and NSA information is being withheld from the American people and Senate. If they were in fact told the truth the Platform would be cancelled tomorrow.

Is there an actual comparison on cost vs capabilities? F-15/16 while a versatile fighters needs certain “pods” added for certain attack capability can it be compared with the f-22/35 with those upgrade in mind so we get a relatively fair comparison. I think the prob with f-35 is they put a lot of capabilities as standard compared to the old practice of buying the the airframe/engine then buy the mission systems separately.


The Lockheed platform was superior to the Boeing one. I just wish we procured the X-35 instead of making it bigger and having another go with the F-35. It would’ve been a 4.5 gen fighter, and probably cannibalize the business of the 5th gen aircraft…but we would’ve had more aircraft in the bank and could pasture out the old teen series. Renovating and building old aircraft has its own costs too.

You were doomed the moment People let Congress allow builds out of control.. You were doomed when you talked over and over again and didn’t take action with Congress.. These airplanes are now to ludicrously expensive to fuel and fly !. They will sit in hangers while pilots log simulator hours. $162 million a jet.that with a “lucky ground to air missile” priced at a few thousand dollars might be taken out ! I remember day when the F-14 maintenance was considered too high and planes escaping to Iran from Iraq compromised the radar systems. There’s never been a mentioned of the aircraft as a threat and building a new radar was better idea than scrapping airplane altogether for F-18 !! The military clearly gets motivated and coached by Hollywood where reality and fantasy are indistinguishable and both for sale.

Stealth is a pure fantasy, not even the F22 raptors can hide; http://​www​.thedailybeast​.com/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​s​/​2​0​1​4​/​0​4​/​28/

this is military industrial complex gone NUTS!

Allen 333222,

Well said, you’re absolutely spot on.

In essence, the unethical Thana Marketing strategy used to sell the JSF, along with the acquisition malpractice of concurrency in not only development, production and testing but the actual designs of the JSF variants, themselves, have resulted in the JSF marketeers writing cheques that the aircraft designs and JSF program cannot honour. Lockheed Martin is a tremendously effective marketing organisation and they acquire all kinds of political influence both through the route of politics of the country, contributing to parties, through retired officers, and through their own marketing organisation which is extremely effective. It is an amazingly good marketing organisation backed by a company that doesn’t build very good aeroplanes.

Its blue-sky thana marketing strategy which is basically designed to enable Lockheed Martin to rape any nation’s plundering taxpayers money in the western world for the next 40 to 50 years.

Allen 333222,

Every F-35 a country buys from Lockheed Martin damages its defence, here is the link.

Indeed the F-35 needs to be scrapped and put Lockheed Martin out of business. Also sack Lt.Gen Chris Bogdan and his staff, pro-F-35 advocates/fanbase people and get the FBI to send some of those corporate fatcats to prison-demand all money unspent refunded to taxpayers. The Pentagon, the Congress, Lockheed Martin, pro-F-35 advocates/fanbase people and the idiotic Air Force/Navy and Marine Corps top brasses have turned the USAF, USN and USMC and the allies into a complete sorry mess.

The F-35 is at best a great national scandal, unproven and at worst the biggest piece of high-tech boondoggle to ever come out of United States of America.

If the defence acquisition was up to me, I’ll be certainly to kill the F-35 and encourage the allies to cancel this lemon too, as a way to put it into the indoor fire and watch it burn for good. Instead take business else where. Lockheed Martin are bunch of crooks, outliers and never do business with them again. They are a bad bargain for any customer.

It is time to put the F-35 into AMARC and to get them chopped into the recycle bin.

Alex Ama,

Here are another links. Definitely stealth technology is a pure fantasy and a total scam.

The true cost of any F-35 depends on how add the various costs together. I can cost the program any number of ways, including how to guess what the production cost of the airframe and the support costs are going to be 20 years from now. Too many people see or hear a number but don’t realize what the basis is for the calculation; a whole lot of apples to oranges to bananas to coconuts. Fly away, recurring, non recurring, product support costs, lifetime costs. Don’t forget advance procurement costs. Shoot, Lockheed has no control over the powerplant costs because the gov’t buys them separate and gives them to Lockheed to install.

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