F-35 Price Tag May Rise to $406 Billion Even After Trump Vows to Lower Cost
The cost of the F-35 stealth fighter jet program may rise by another $27.5 billion, despite President Donald Trump’s assurances to fix “out of control” expenditures in the production of the most expensive jet in US history, according to a Pentagon paper.
Overall acquisition costs for the advanced fighter jet could climb by $27.5 billion, to $406.5 billion, according to the latest Selected Acquisition Report submitted to Congress. The F-35 is already estimated as the costliest single project in US military history.
The Pentagon’s F-35 program office earlier told Bloomberg the $27.5 billion increase was reflected in current “then-year” dollars to fund research, development, procurement and military construction.
“The F-35 program remains within all cost, schedule and performance thresholds and continues to make steady progress,”Vice Admiral Mat Winter, the program’s manager, explained in a statement.
The F-35 office “is committed to the delivery of cost-effective war fighting capability across all areas of the program and is aggressively pursuing affordability opportunities within our three lines of effort – Development, Production, Sustainment,” he added.
According to Winter, the estimated multibillion-dollar increase was largely driven by the adjustments to the F-35’s production schedule. The US Air Force reduced its maximum rate of aircraft purchases from 80 to 60 per year, which requires the extension of planned procurements by six years, from 2038 to 2044, he said.
The F-35 program has been plagued by reliability issues, major design flaws and cost overruns. Critics have warned the fifth-generation jet, marketed as a superior plane to its fourth-generation predecessors, would provide little advantage on the battlefield.