Deferring buys of F-35s to later years has driven unit recurring flyaway costs up about $1.2 million each, according to the Joint Strike Fighter Joint Program Office. Providing background information on the Pentagon’s December 2013 selected acquisition report, which are the Pentagon’s official costs for its major programs, the JSF SPO said the final average (and weighted) flyaway cost of the Air Force’s F-35A model will be $77.8 million in base year 2012 dollars, across 1,763 machines, up from $76.8 million. The short takeoff/vertical landing F-35B variant, to be flown by the Marine Corps, will average $104.8 million each—up from $103.6 million—and the Navy’s carrier-capable F-35C will be $89.7 million apiece, up $1 million each from the previous SAR. The Navy department plans to buy 340 each of the B and C models. The SPO said that actual negotiated prices on the Lot 7 buy—$112 million, $139 million, and $130 million for the A, B, and C models—were well below the previous SAR estimates of $123 million, $151 million, and $148 million, respectively, expected at this stage in production. This cost “continues to come down lot after lot and remains well below the SAR LRIP yearly (unit recurring flyaway cost) estimates,” according to a SPO factsheet.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.