F-35 gets cheaper to maintain over its life

The F-35 Lightning II fighter program has received some more good news recently when it was noted that the costs to sustain the aircraft over the program life have been significantly reduced. Officials managing the program say that the $89.4 billion decrease in the estimated sustainment costs over the life of the program are an indication that the program is on better footing than it was previously.
“Year after year, the price of the airplane continues to come down and year after year we negotiate ... much lower than the [estimated aircraft] price,” Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, the F-35 program manager, said.
“The curve is still coming down, year, after year, after year,” he said. “It’s not coming down as fast as we’d like it.”
Officials overseeing the program are working hard to further bring costs down. Recently, Bogdan has been encouraging Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney to make "multiple-year buys and long-term arrangements" with their suppliers to avoid further cost overruns.
But while sustainment costs have decreased, the procurement costs of the actual fighters have increased by $7.4 billion. This is due to the fact that an order for 33 fighters that would have been delivered between 2015 and 2018 was delayed.
“The two primary drivers that caused that procurement dollar amount to go up were labor rates for our prime contractors and for their major [subcontractors] ... and the fact that some of the partners moved the buy of their airplanes out to the right,” Bogdan said.
“When you do that, the curve for the cost of the airplane doesn’t come down as fast as it would have and that’s reflected in the total procurement cost to go up.”

Source: Defense News

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