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Analyst says three fourths of cost increases come from the way the U.S. government estimates costs

The cost of F-35 Lightning II fighter program continues spiral ever upwards. The United States is now projecting that the total cost to develop, operate, and purchase the Lockheed Martin F-35 will total $1.45 trillion over the next 50 years. Reuters notes the figures come from a Pentagon report that it obtained.
The $1.45 trillion estimate is up from the roughly $1 trillion estimate the government used a year ago. The new estimate does include inflation expected over the next 50 years. Military officials are fast point out that this is the first military program to be calculated over so many years and that expected inflation accounts for more than a third of the projected operating costs for the F-35 over the next half-century. The actual cost could be significantly less, or if inflation hits hard the program could cost more.
The new estimates also include the Pentagon's plan to postpone orders for 179 F-35 fighters by five years. In the short term that move will save $15.1 billion through 2017, but it also pushes the purchase further out when inflation will mean the aircraft will cost more.
Other than saving money, military officials and program managers hope that the five-year delay will mean problems found in testing can be worked out before aircraft are produced in high numbers. The total Pentagon plan still has the originally expected 2,443 fighters being purchased. However, senior military officials have already warned that additional technical problems or cost increases in the F-35 program could change the number of aircraft government purchases.

The estimated cost per F-35 is $135 million for the airframe, and an additional $22 million for the Pratt & Whitney engine (this includes R&D and inflation).
Program managers for the F-35 argue that much of the reason for cost inflation and price overruns on the project continues to be due to the U.S. government changing how it estimates costs. The government has also begun splitting up the cost of the airframe and engine making direct comparisons to previous aircraft impossible.
Defense analyst Loren Thompson says that three fourths of the cost increases the F-35 program has encountered are directly linked to changes in the scope of the program and the way the government estimates costs. Thompson cites the fact the Pentagon initially planned the station the F-35 at 33 bases and then later change the number 49 bases. The government also originally calculated operating costs over 30 years and then chose to calculate them over 50 years. Costs could increase even more if partner nations cut orders for the F-35.
"The program costs appear to be rising much faster than they actually are because the government keeps changing how it calculates things," Thompson said.
The Canadian government recently hinted that it might consider cutting its F-35 orders.

Source: Reuters

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It's too bad this jet
By tayb on 3/29/2012 3:33:41 PM , Rating: 5
It's too bad this jet can't protect me from Congress urinating on the Bill of Rights.

RE: It's too bad this jet
By vXv on 3/29/2012 3:31:13 PM , Rating: 3
Not voting in morons might.

RE: It's too bad this jet
By stardude692001 on 3/29/2012 5:55:37 PM , Rating: 4
find me a candidate who isn't a moron then we will talk.

RE: It's too bad this jet
By TSS on 3/29/2012 9:25:37 PM , Rating: 2
Stop voting for the ones who are then. Or they'll just put up more morons for election the next time.

RE: It's too bad this jet
By stardude692001 on 3/30/2012 2:18:23 AM , Rating: 3
They don't choose candidates based on who we like or vote for, they and by they I mean the corporations that run america choose the candidates that best serve them and then let you pick which of their puppets you want to get screwed by.

RE: It's too bad this jet
By Noya on 3/29/2012 10:48:34 PM , Rating: 4
You're a moron if you believe our votes actually mean anything.

RE: It's too bad this jet
By Crazyeyeskillah on 3/30/2012 9:37:57 AM , Rating: 2

RE: It's too bad this jet
By MrBlastman on 3/30/2012 11:14:30 AM , Rating: 1
They do, otherwise we wouldn't have a douchebag named Romney on the verge of winning the Republican primary.

The real problem is that people don't care enough to learn about their options and instead allow themselves to be manipulated by the media and what they dictate should be their vote. If they didn't, instead of douchebag Romney, someone else would be winning.

Who cares about cost...
By Marlin1975 on 3/29/2012 11:58:09 AM , Rating: 5
Who cares? We have a budget surplus, no debt, economy is doing well, everybody has health care, and no corruption in site.


RE: Who cares about cost...
By Mizerable on 3/29/12, Rating: -1
RE: Who cares about cost...
By BansheeX on 3/30/2012 7:08:47 PM , Rating: 1
No, the principle does not reverse itself from micro to macro. That's neo-Keynesian nonsense. We are importing far more than we export by borrowing money at interest after burning through our tax revenue. That borrowing has to be paid back by future tax revenue, not future loans, or else it's a ponzi scheme that will end in default or hyperinflation when new lenders can't be found. So in essence, each generation is stealing from its unborn successor generation. Which is rather easy to do, considering unborn people can't vote. Still think paper money is the way to go, fool?

RE: Who cares about cost...
By OS on 3/29/2012 1:34:49 PM , Rating: 2
Who cares? We have a budget surplus, no debt, economy is doing well, everybody has health care, and no corruption in site.

you know whats really funny?
SS and medicare/medicaid spend more in a year than the F35 will in its entire program life.

RE: Who cares about cost...
By Jeffk464 on 3/29/2012 2:22:32 PM , Rating: 3
Yes, but just about every american will benefit from SS and medicare. The average american won't see much benefit from a new weapons system. What do I care if the Air Force is using f16's to drop bombs instead of F35's?

RE: Who cares about cost...
By Hyperion1400 on 3/29/12, Rating: 0
RE: Who cares about cost...
By TSS on 3/29/2012 9:19:57 PM , Rating: 3
Ironically you indeed don't have to worry about the cost.

+450 billion when they count inflation. Hah. You'll hit hyperinlfation within a decade.

$1,45 trillion was $200 billion 50 years ago.

By KnightBreed on 3/29/2012 12:23:04 PM , Rating: 2
Am I supposed to be outraged or shocked by the total cost of ownership? A number that was calculated completely differently and over a longer period of time than any aircraft before it?

So $1.45 trillion over the course of 50 years for the aircraft and maintenance. Sounds big, but compared to what?

RE: Sensational
By Amiga500 on 3/29/2012 1:01:20 PM , Rating: 2
You are supposed to snigger at the idiocy of the "analysts" crying over the use of inflation (as if it has never been done before).

Anyone that knows anything about the program is aware of the Quick Look Report (QLR) and its findings.

Here is a reasonable (if not at all technical) summary of things:

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, meant to replace nearly every tactical warplane in the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, was already expected to cost $1 trillion dollars for development, production and maintenance over the next 50 years. Now that cost is expected to grow, owing to 13 different design flaws uncovered in the last two months by a hush-hush panel of five Pentagon experts. It could cost up to a billion dollars to fix the flaws on copies of the jet already in production, to say nothing of those yet to come.

So... big faults = big costs. Why the surprise when an investigation into costs subsequent to the QLR find that costs have increased significantly?

RE: Sensational
By Jeffk464 on 3/29/2012 2:26:51 PM , Rating: 3
There is no way to know how long an airframe will be in service. It depends on unknown future needs, budgets, technology, and of course how well the airframe holds together. The designers of the C130 and B52 would never have guessed that their designs would be in service for so long.

RE: Sensational
By stardude692001 on 3/29/2012 5:44:47 PM , Rating: 1
send in the stealth to neutralize suface to air.
send in the F22's in the one in a million chance we are fighting someone with an airforce.
then send in the B-52's to flatten everything we want gone.
and finally keep a cap of drones and warthogs for ground support.

why do we need the F35 to fight the camel people?

RE: Sensational
By Metaluna on 3/30/2012 10:19:41 AM , Rating: 2
I don't want to defend the F35 program, which sounds like another Pentagon clusterf* that took on a life of its own and cannot be killed despite no longer serving the functions it was envisioned for in the first place. But, there's an old saying in the military: "You have to be prepared to fight the next war, not the last one." "Fighting camel people" was the last war. 50 years is a long time. The next war could be with an advanced superpower again, like China or a resurgent Russia or something. If you don't keep the defense industry busy doing *something* during that time, the expertise and technological base needed to build things like this in the future will erode. It's not an easy problem to solve, at least not cheaply.

Then again looking at the way our industrial base is crumbling anyway, it's hard to imagine the US being in any kind of financial condition to deter another emerging superpower like China in 30-50 years.

So then
By geddarkstorm on 3/29/2012 11:45:09 AM , Rating: 3
Why have we traded out the F-22 production for these?

The F-35 is a really useful multirole craft... but we have older yet still potent aircraft that can fit that role. All our past engineering achievements are still relevant to today, which says a lot. I really do like the overall concept of the F-35 (vertical landing/take off ability is hugely advantageous in principle), but somehow we've just.. botched it. It's like we can't get any ambitious projects done these days without all this money floundering; in hindsight that makes the F-22's development seem remarkable.

I think we are just way overcomplicating the F-35 with gadgets and gizmos and forgetting the basics, like -actually making things work efficiently-.

RE: So then
By gamerk2 on 3/29/2012 11:52:31 AM , Rating: 2
The root problem is the Armed Forces want to go back to the heavy/light aircraft combination that brought us the F15/F16. Nevermind that the Navy found both unsuitable and then developed the YF17 into the F18...

The lack of a formal test plan PRIOR to the production phase, and the sharing of airframes were major mistakes, that much is clear now.

RE: So then
By Amiga500 on 3/29/2012 12:54:38 PM , Rating: 2
The VTOL/STOVL variant has crippled the other two.

It will also be an operational non-entity when considering its impact in any large scale conflict (i.e. payload/range will be so pathetic as to be nigh-on useless).

Oh and a general comment to Dailytech. I wouldn't use any paper that have Loren Thompson's opinions on them to wipe my arse. The man is a shill and a stupid one at that.

RE: So then
By Solandri on 3/29/2012 4:03:32 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah. They saw one problem - too many different planes for similar tasks driving up development and maintenance costs. They tried to fix it by consolidating the designs of multiple planes. But they went too far and now we have basically one plane trying to do too much, driving up development and operational costs because the aircraft is insufficiently optimized for any particular given role.

What a cost!
By wewter on 3/29/2012 4:06:03 PM , Rating: 2
so $1.45 Trillion / ~310,000,000 (not like everybody in America pays taxes.. so distorted) ... every American's responsible for $4,600+ of the cost of this program? Every single American.

Ouch. LOL and people say this country's not bankrupt.

RE: What a cost!
By vXv on 3/29/2012 4:20:18 PM , Rating: 2
And that's for a program that isn't needed at all.

RE: What a cost!
By andre-bch on 3/29/2012 5:10:29 PM , Rating: 2
4600 / 50 = 92$ a year

I'd gladly pay that, it's not much, BUT the condition is for them to get it working. An aircraft that turns out to be broken in the end should be canceled as soon as possible. Hopefully this won't be the case. F-16s are getting old and china isn't sitting still either.

RE: What a cost!
By Amiga500 on 3/30/2012 5:51:55 AM , Rating: 2
Thing is - an F-35 will probably be bog-all use against China.

Poor kinematic performance.
Poor combat persistence.
Continuous questions from program initiation over VLO performance.

Compared to the F-15 vs. the J-11, or the F-16 vs. the JH-7, the F-35 is a significant step backward compared to the J-20 and its lightweight brother (which I believe is still under development).

By Dan Banana on 4/1/2012 9:51:41 AM , Rating: 2
Dollars to donuts about 0.00007% of them have clue one about what they pontificate on.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

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