Unit cost for the Joint Strike Fighter could increase by $12 million to $16 million if the Pentagon has to slow production in the early years, Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles Davis, the program manager, told Reuters news service. Senate appropriators have just opted to delay production by a year, and that early delay, says Davis, would hurt most. Some lawmakers believe the program is running too concurrently, essentially as a buy-before-test enterprise. However, Davis said earlier this summer that he has never seen a program at this stage with such mature development. This issue is not closed, with House and Senate lawmakers due to iron out differences in their versions of the 2007 defense spending bill, but both chambers appear willing to slow the F-35. (Read more about the state of the JSF program in our September article “Struggling for Altitude.”)
The Pentagon awarded a contract worth over $2 billion for the next batch of F-35 engines to Pratt & Whitney on June 5. The deal for Lot 17 F135 engines, totaling $2.02 billion, is expected to be completed by December 2025.