Print 47 comment(s) - last by Master Kenobi.. on Jun 7 at 8:36 PM

The cost of the F-35 JSF program seems to only get higher

As lawmakers and military officials continue to show disappointment in prolonged budget issues and delays in the next-generation joint strike fighter program, the Department of Defense said the program could end up topping $382 billion.

Each F-35 Lightning II aircraft, which will be available for $92.4 million, continues to struggle due to budget problems.  This is a "cradle-to-grave" estimate -- meaning the cost from manufacturing to retirement. The inflated price tag is related to contractor labor costs and higher overhead rates.

"I hope that the taxpayer never has to pay this bill.  It should come down," a senior defense official noted during a recent press conference.  Another official said," I cannot foresee any scenario where those numbers become a reality."

Lockheed Martin said the JSF estimates are based on the F-A/18 and F-22 Raptor programs, which isn't fair since the fighter programs are so much older than the F-35 program.

In the most recent round of problems, Pratt & Whitney's slow development of the F135 engine has caused the House Armed Services Committee to offer funding for the GE/Rolls-Royce F126 engine.

At the end of May, the U.S. Navy said it will extend the lifespan of the F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft to help reduce an anticipated fighter gap.  The Navy and Lockheed said it's possible the F-35C JSF will be available starting in late 2016, but that date seems less likely.

Lockheed will have to continue defending the program, especially now that the rising cost of the F-35 needs to be re-certified by Congress.  The DoD still plans to purchase as many as 2,457 F-35 fighter craft over the next 25 years, but that number could change if spending isn't more closely watched.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Modern F-16
By corduroygt on 6/3/2010 5:16:21 PM , Rating: 2
Take away the twin air intakes and twin tails, and it looks very similar to the F-16.

RE: Modern F-16
By Micronite on 6/3/2010 5:41:31 PM , Rating: 2
Or... add another engine and it looks like an F-15 or F-22.

Looks can be deceiving.

RE: Modern F-16
By corduroygt on 6/3/2010 7:15:28 PM , Rating: 2
No it doesn't. The wing planforms of jets that are optimized for slower speeds (F16/F18/F35) are much different than those optimized for higher speeds and kinematic performance such as the F15/F22

RE: Modern F-16
By superPC on 6/3/2010 6:35:40 PM , Rating: 5
Oh come on this again? what we need is a true 5th generation fighter. no thurst vectoring, no supercruise, limited stealth, the F-35 is a 4.5 generation fighter at best. even Australia is considering choosing sukhoi PAK FA over this (with PAK FA costing about 40 million more expensive). what we need is more F-22.

RE: Modern F-16
By amanojaku on 6/3/2010 7:47:51 PM , Rating: 2
no thurst vectoring
The F-35 has thrust vectoring.
limited stealth
Compared to what, the F-22, which is our plane? That's not exactly an insult.
even Australia is considering choosing sukhoi PAK FA over this
Sources? Because Australia has committed to purchasing the F-35.

And the PAK FA has only just started test flights (no more than 10, apparently), without all its parts (avionics and weapons). The PAK FA looks awesome on paper, but there's no way anyone would commit to buying one without seeing a complete prototype in action.

RE: Modern F-16
By psychmike on 6/3/2010 9:45:13 PM , Rating: 4
The F-35 does not have thrust vectoring. The F-35B can rotate its nozzle down for STOVL but does not do this for maneuvering which is the commonly accepted defined purpose of thrust vectoring.

RE: Modern F-16
By FITCamaro on 6/3/2010 10:40:59 PM , Rating: 2
You are absolutely wrong about F35 thrust vectoring. Period.

RE: Modern F-16
By Nfarce on 6/3/2010 11:22:09 PM , Rating: 2
The F-35 has thrust vectoring.

It depends on what you mean by "thrust vectoring." The Harrier jump jet has thrust vectoring as does the F-22. But both are designed completely differently and used for completely different purposes. The F-35 has only one type of thrust vectoring, for Harrier-type operations. Wanna clarify what you meant?

RE: Modern F-16
By psychmike on 6/6/2010 5:49:50 PM , Rating: 2
Harrier pilots reportedly did use vectored thrust during combat maneuvers while fighting in the Falklands. Thrust vectoring in the Harrier is fully manual and mechanical. I'm not sure if you could do the same thing with the F-35B which has a LOT more moving parts!

RE: Modern F-16
By monkeyman1140 on 6/6/2010 4:42:41 PM , Rating: 2
Many countries buy planes that are in development. The F-35 was no different. We were already offering paper planes to other countries on the promise they would be available in 10 years.

The Russian Pak-FA is likely to hit the skies sooner than you think.

RE: Modern F-16
By Hyperion1400 on 6/3/10, Rating: 0
RE: Modern F-16
By psychmike on 6/3/2010 8:56:57 PM , Rating: 5
You're comparing a Russian aircraft in early development with a US aircraft (F-22) that is already in service. There's at LEAST a 20 year difference between these 2 aircraft. I'm pretty sure the US will be doing something new when the SU-50 enters service in 2030. For now, all claims re the SU-50 are based on promises, not proven performance. It's definitely not going to be in service when initially promised (in 2 years).

Stealth is in the details and it is far from clear that Russian manufacturing tolerances are up to the task. Have you seen the SU-50 prototype? There's not a lot of planform alignment going on in paneling and fixtures. It looks to me like there's a straight line between the intakes and the engine face. Why don't you explain to me how they defeat X-band returns from the engine? Engine radar blockers? Those have detrimental effects on engine performance. You don't exactly want to limit engine performance during ingress. Russian engine reliability is also far below Western standards. While PESA is easier to implement, it isn't as versatile as AESA technology. Not many people are buying Russian technology promises these days. I don't have problems quoting Wiki but that specific entry has only ONE reference.

As for "dodging missiles", many modern aircraft are instantaneous and sustained G-limited by the pilot. The ability to evade missiles has more to do with kinematic performance.

The Russians design BEAUTIFUL aircraft that capitalize on aerodynamics but their past performance has repeatedly fallen short from initial claims in avionics, engine performance, and reliability. The same claims of superiority over Western equivalents were made when the SU-27 and MiG-29 were initially shown.

RE: Modern F-16
By Reclaimer77 on 6/3/2010 9:08:30 PM , Rating: 2
Russia makes lots of stuff that looks great on paper. But in reality are pieces of shit. They couldn't top us during the cold war, when they were spending every red cent on the military and defense, so I doubt they can top us now.

And you can make a plane that can "dodge" an AIM-120 maybe, but I would like to see the pilot that can do it and not black out from G's.

The Su-50 is still in development phase. You are making wild claims about a plane nobody knows anything about. And it's not slated to hit the market till 2015. How many upgrades will the F-22 have by 2015? Assuming we don't re-elect Obama, of course.

The Russians are famous for stealing and reverse engineering tech. The SU-50 looks like a copy of an F-22 and F-15. But to claim it will have world beating avionics, radar, and targeting systems... well, what are you basing this on exactly? Detect and lock onto an F-22 from hundreds of miles away? Bullshit man. More stealthy? How? Have they been tested head to head somewhere??

RE: Modern F-16
By integr8d on 6/4/2010 2:27:05 AM , Rating: 4
Agreed that most, if not all, of these claims are based on speculation. But saying that Russia couldn't top us in the Cold War is a bit disingenuous. We both took on massive debt, to build up our arms. Their currency failed first. Ours is about to...

RE: Modern F-16
By Thrymm on 6/3/2010 7:19:12 PM , Rating: 3
Should have hired Foxconn for the electronics.

No thanks
By spathotan on 6/3/2010 9:21:33 PM , Rating: 2
What we already have is good enough. Just ask any country that has inferior weapons and technology, its a long list.

RE: No thanks
By spathotan on 6/3/2010 9:26:12 PM , Rating: 2
$382 billion on some jets. Almost half a TRILLION dollars. These kinds of funds would be better spent on redoing the nations terribly outdated infrastructure, NASA, alternate fuel research.....

RE: No thanks
By FITCamaro on 6/4/2010 6:23:57 AM , Rating: 4
So just cut Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the freaking health care bill, etc.

Each one is near, equal to, or far greater than the military budget. The difference is national defense is actually something the federal government is charged with doing by the constitution.

And what about the fact that our current aircraft are old and ready to retire do you not understand? Sure we could build new F15s, F16s, and F18s. But we are building these fighters to be used for the next 20-40 years. Our enemies already have planes that can best those older jets or they're on the drawing board and in development.

But you can thank the Democrats for canceling the F22. Instead of the 785 we were originally supposed to build to replace over 1500 aircraft, we now have 187. 187 to put around the world and keep in the US for air dominance for the next 20-30 years, if not longer. Hardly an adequate number.

RE: No thanks
By dgingeri on 6/4/2010 7:59:54 AM , Rating: 2
But you can thank the Democrats for canceling the F22. Instead of the 785 we were originally supposed to build to replace over 1500 aircraft, we now have 187. 187 to put around the world and keep in the US for air dominance for the next 20-30 years, if not longer. Hardly an adequate number.

well, in all fairness, the F22 is equal to about 100 previous generation jets, and could probably take out half a dozen, land, rearm, and relaunch with no threat to them.

we also aren't limited to just interceptors for air superiority. We have some pretty advanced guns, missiles, and even lasers for taking out enemy aircraft these days.

I agree with taking out much of what you list from the federal budget, and increasing the number of F22s on duty, but the F22 isn't our only defense.

RE: No thanks
By Carl B on 6/4/2010 9:20:32 AM , Rating: 3
Except that our air superiority isn't in shambles, whereas those other programs you mentioned are. Our military leads the world, whereas our health care coverage (and costs) trail.

I just don't understand what scenarios around here the uber-hawks - who always want spending cut on everything civilian but jacked up on everything military - foresee within the next twenty years, where the US is somehow under par on its ability to dominate air space against *likely* opponents. China is not a likely opponent (but would still lose that battle), Russia is not a likely opponent (but can't afford its own weapons anyway), and Europe... is not a likely opponent - I think obviously. So any foreseeable conflict would be against small states with nominal air force's that even if the equipment is nominally there, will probably lack the training and mixed forces integration (see: Iraq).

Enough with these concerns as to US looming obsolescence - and always because of those super-soft Democrats. Oh why oh why don't liberals understand that 'freedom' requires massive spending on boondoggle projects?

The money, as mentioned, would be better applied towards funding domestic energy independence, which would have a far greater benefit to our national security situation than would all the F-35's in the world. And at ~$0.5T, honestly that would go a long long way.

RE: No thanks
By HotFoot on 6/4/2010 10:36:13 AM , Rating: 2
IMHO, the JSF programme is getting way out of hand, yes. And yes, taking care of each other or figuring out how to bring health care costs more in-line with the rest of developed world would be great. But that doesn't require abandonment of next-generation equipment. I would rather the west maintain a massive technological advantage over potential adversaries.

But back to the JSF - really the costs are ridiculous. The JSF was to cost around $35M to $45M when the programme was started. I don't know what the expected cradle-to-grave cost was supposed to be. This aircraft is saddled with taking on, IMO, far too many tasks. I still fail to see how a $100M stealth fighter is a suitable replacement for the A-10. Yet, not having next-gen replacements for a number of other vehicles is how the $100B (now quadruple that) programme was justified in the first place.

I am of the philosophy that mission creep is a bad thing - and in this case it wasn't even creep it was built-in from the start. A series of purpose-designed vehicles, each simpler than the JSF because each would handle a smaller array of tasks - would probably be cheaper overall, and put better capabilities in the field.

RE: No thanks
By MasterBlaster7 on 6/5/2010 8:45:48 PM , Rating: 3
Listen here teabagger

the F-22 was limited to 183 planes in 2006...right in the middle of the Bush presidency.

the F-22 possible numbers has not been at 750 (not 785) since 1994.

Why dont you and Sarah Palin go for a moon light swim in the gulf.

RE: No thanks
By monkeyman1140 on 6/6/2010 4:45:39 PM , Rating: 2
The North Koreans, the Chinese, the Russians?

Frankly the only real potential enemies of worth are in Europe, and they're allies the last I checked.

We NEED health care, we can do just fine without the J-35. Other countries are worrying about health care too, and perhaps its fitting that the world arms markets are losing out the health care concerns.

RE: No thanks
By psychmike on 6/6/2010 5:51:24 PM , Rating: 3
Could you please, please stop dragging your personal political views into, well, just about everything.

F-22s all the way
By psychmike on 6/3/2010 7:41:29 PM , Rating: 2
Given the rising cost of the F-35 program, I think the Navy would be willing to forgo the F-35C, buy more Super Bugs, throw the money into ship procurement, and skip this generation of upgrades and go straight to UCAVs. Marine aviation might be convinced to do the same and pass on the F-35B if the UCAV could be flown off LHDs and be controlled locally by the grunts on the ground. Killing the program would, however, cause a lot of ill will with allies who are depending on the F-35 to replace the F-16 and F/A-18.

Take the F-22 (which is already using AESA components developed for JSF), add EOTS, MLDS, and maybe HMD and you have a very credible strike platform. These are all low-risk upgrades, many of which have already been planned. 8 Small Diameter Bombs, 2 AMRAAMs, and 2 Sidewinders makes for a pretty lethal, self-escorting strike package.

RE: F-22s all the way
By ians55 on 6/3/2010 8:00:06 PM , Rating: 3
Maybe skip that altogether and shell some bucks on X-Wing program? :)

RE: F-22s all the way
By Hyperion1400 on 6/3/2010 8:24:25 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, the Incom T-65; the Chinese would never know what hit em. And, at only 150k credits a pop, we could outfit our entire military without batting an eyelash.

RE: F-22s all the way
By bupkus on 6/3/2010 8:35:50 PM , Rating: 3
I just hope the Chinese don't cancel our credit card.

RE: F-22s all the way
By integr8d on 6/4/10, Rating: 0
RE: F-22s all the way
By monkeyman1140 on 6/6/2010 4:46:56 PM , Rating: 2
What good are snub fighters against THAT thing?

RE: F-22s all the way
By psychmike on 6/3/2010 9:04:39 PM , Rating: 2

RE: F-22s all the way
By FITCamaro on 6/3/2010 10:47:27 PM , Rating: 2
EOTS would probably degrade some of the stealth on the F22.

Who's at fault here?
By bigdawg1988 on 6/3/2010 9:18:50 PM , Rating: 2
Is the problem with the engines because the DoD is adding onto the plane, or is PW having problems getting it to work? Lockheed had a flying prototype that worked fairly well, although maybe the engines aren't durable enough?

Someone needs to hold the contractors to the original budgets AND hold the military to the original specs. Quit adding crap to the thing until it no longer works! Almost every military program gets eaten up by budget creep. And quit allowing contractors to run up the budget AFTER they get contracts.

If PW is the problem, then perhaps we ought to fund another engine - at PW's cost. If you don't hold these contractors to the fire, they won't perform. If you tried this in the civilian world they would tell you where to go and what to do while you're there.

How can our military kick so much butt around the world and get down on their knees for our own companies?
Oh yeah, unlimited budgets.

RE: Who's at fault here?
By psychmike on 6/3/2010 9:42:34 PM , Rating: 3

It's not consipratorial or unpatriotic to say that we should be weary of the military industrial complex. These are PRIVATE interests with a strong lobby that use public funds.

I have nothing against the individuals who work for these organizations. I'm sure many are brilliant, patriotic, and hard working individuals. But corporations have as their mandate PROFIT. I imagine that with any immensely complex project, squeezing a few million extra here and there is an easy thing to do.

The military should lay out the specs and then stop changing them. Contractors should build the damn thing to specs and be fined for not meeting goals. Modifications can happen later but this kind of finger pointing just comes off as collusion as individuals move through the revolving door between the military, government, and defense contractors.

It's always easier to spend someone else's money...

RE: Who's at fault here?
By FITCamaro on 6/4/2010 6:16:31 AM , Rating: 2
Most of the delays are from changing requirements and scope creep which largely result from the customer. Others delays come from the fact that you are not designing a blender. You're designing a highly complex fighter jet with millions of lines of code running it. Software almost always runs behind schedule. Unforeseen technical problems creep up.

It is a fact of true engineering.

RE: Who's at fault here?
By monkeyman1140 on 6/6/2010 4:50:02 PM , Rating: 2
Or perhaps during the bidding process they simply underbid to garner the contract, knowing that later they can inflate the costs and the government will simply eat it.

Standard rule of government contracting, once they sign, they won't walk away unless you screw up so horribly it ends up on 60 minutes.

RE: Who's at fault here?
By psychmike on 6/6/2010 5:56:31 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, I suppose that planning and building multi-billion chip manufacturing plants are a simple affair. No where else but in the military industrial complex would it be acceptable to have 100% overruns on projected costs. What exactly is the point of projecting a cost of it is that inaccurate?

Freeze requirements, request proposals, and hold corporations to those costs. The costs can be negotiated to include risk. If corporations don't think that they can reasonably do it within costs they shouldn't bid. Contracts can always be re-issued. Isn't that how capitalism is supposed to work?

F-22 + Reaper
By Azsen on 6/4/2010 12:32:08 AM , Rating: 2
I reckon link up the F-22 with the remote control technology of the Reapers then you've got a plane to be reckoned with. The F-22 should be able to perform even tighter maneuvers without a pilot and you wouldn't have to worry about them blacking out from the G-forces as it's remote controlled.

RE: F-22 + Reaper
By anthrax on 6/4/2010 6:23:00 AM , Rating: 2
So, what happens when the remote control link fails? I hope it doesn't go in safe mode.

RE: F-22 + Reaper
By bugnguts on 6/4/2010 7:48:00 PM , Rating: 2
Along with what your saying you can use AWAKs (sp?) as remote control centers with a back up on the ground. If the UAV's can refill by tanker in the air then you have something akin to a carrier group but one that can move at about ten times as fast. This scare of one being hacked or malfunctioning is possible but malfunctions is common in all craft/munitions and you can have a separate secure kill switch, 2key system akin the guards on ballistic warheads.
Loosing an F22 cost ~$138million to replace and you may loose the pilot as well which cost significant money to train. You can purchase 10-25 UAVs with that and you don't loose a pilot. Testing to service of the F22 was eight years 1997-2005. General Atomics flew a prof of concept Predator B prototype in Feb of 2001 and the Air force had the aircrafts in their hands by the end of 2002. My dad worked on the Pratt and Whitney's in the F22 I watched the test flight footage endlessly. Its an incredible feat of engineering, but UAVs just make much more sense.

RE: F-22 + Reaper
By Master Kenobi on 6/7/2010 8:36:25 PM , Rating: 2
UAV's in their current form are quite useless when matched up against any modern country. Their only saving grace is their cost and the low tech enemy they fight which has an extremely hard time shooting them down. Up against a country such as China and our UAV fleet would not last very long. Even Iran which has decent Russian made SAM systems would give the UAV fleet cause for concern.

Cancel the bastard?
By FPP on 6/4/2010 11:53:32 AM , Rating: 2
Pull a Dick Cheney(i.e. A-12) and cancel it. Get out a woooden stake and a mallet and put it through the heart of it, instead of bleeding cash forever.
Start over and send the message to the losers that if they want to win, they meet the pricing. In the day and age we live, they can design a plane without ever leaving the computer and can get to a prototype in five years. ANOTHER 54 billion!!!!!...for DEVELOPMENT!

RE: Cancel the bastard?
By monkeyman1140 on 6/6/2010 4:39:51 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, the A-12. What a disaster that was. Thankfully that project was pulled, it was bleeding money.

By Sahrin on 6/3/2010 6:33:54 PM , Rating: 2

I know it's not multi-role, I'm just sayin'.

trillions wasted already.
By Soulkeeper on 6/3/2010 9:53:01 PM , Rating: 2
This program would be a better use of tax payer money than bailing out irresponsible big banks.

By Malak on 6/5/2010 12:47:56 PM , Rating: 2
10 billion dollars and we feed the world. 400 billion dollars and we blow it up. Tell me we are about freedom and liberty and I'll slap you in the face. This country has only one priority and it isn't helping anyone.

Kill the Program
By monkeyman1140 on 6/6/2010 4:38:00 PM , Rating: 2
Health Care is more important than global dominance. We have forgotten that to successfully participate in a cold need an opposing counterpart. None exists, and nobody else is willing to step up to the plate to be "red flag" because they know how expensive it is too.

If the J35 disappeared tomorrow, nobody would notice. Europe doesn't want the plane, they have the Eurofighter and the Rafale, and the 3rd world doesn't need the planes. They're content with their 70's era fighters because there really isn't a global arms race going on right now. They're all busy trying to figure out how to give health care to their citizens.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki