The JSF continues to increase in cost, while Lockheed Martin and military official defend the program

The cost of each next-generation F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft has ballooned from $50 million per craft in 2001 to more than $113 million in 2010.

The price tag has ballooned due to delays and other major holdups.  Such a drastic price increase has again forced military leaders to defend the JSF program in front of Congress – patience is running out as the military looks for ways to trim costs.

Lockheed Martin also has been forced to defend the numerous delays and price increases to the government, but still has been unable to keep costs under control.

There is possible evidence the contractor "bought into" the JSF program by offering a lower price it knew it would be unable to meet (without steadily raising the costs in later years). Lockheed Martin was able to edge out Boeing's competing X-32 offering in part to due to better SVTOL performance, a low price tag, and the fact that the X-35 (precursor to the F-35 Lightning II) would borrow some technology from the larger F-22 Raptor.

The F-35 Lightning II was expected to become the most expensive weapons program picked up by the Pentagon, and the new price will again lead some politicians and military leaders to discuss dropping the program.  Continued disappointment has led the USAF to show more interest in mobility instead of relying on the JSF program -- especially after the expected one-year delay.  

The U.S. military does have some positive outlooks, however, with the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team recently completing successful afterburner tests on its third engine.  There are six F136 engine tests scheduled in 2010.

We are marching along in development, making progress every day, and achieving full afterburner on our newest engine demonstrates the capability and success of the F136 team. It also means the F-35 program is another step closer to reaping the proven benefits of enduring competition in the engine program,” said Al DiLibero, President of GE Rolls-Royce's Fighter Engine Team.

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