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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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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.

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