Bargain Fighter

Air Force Maj. Gen. C.R. Davis, F-35 program manager, said April 8 the average procurement unit cost of the F-35 will be just under $70 million in today’s dollars. This represents the average cost of the 2,443 airplanes to be built for the US military services only and does not include the price benefits that will derive from selling the fighter to eight “level one” partner countries and many more after them. The F-35 production run could easily match that of the F-16, of which more than 4,000 units have been built for 24 countries. Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Vice President and General Manager Dan Crowley pointed out during a teleconference with reporters April 8 that, if Israel buys 25 F-35s in 2011, as it is expected to do, the cost of the entire program will drop by about $500 million. This same cost reduction will hold true when any other country buys 20 or so of the fighters, he said. Crowley noted that a 30-person delegation from the Japan Air Self Defense Force was in Ft. Worth, Tex., the week of March 31 collecting data on the F-35, which Japan may consider to replace some of its aging fighters.