F-35 Remains Top Priority Despite Declining Budgets

Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top acquisition authority, said he does not expect the Navy to have to significantly reduce the size of its F-35 buy if budget sequestration continues into Fiscal 2015—a move that could potentially increase the cost of F-35 variants for the Air Force, Marine Corps, and international partners, reported Reuters. “I don’t see any indication that the Navy is going to change its plans in any fundamental way,” said Kendall on Sept. 4 at Reuters’ aerospace and defense symposium in Washington, D.C. In late August, Bloomberg reported that the Navy might have to cut “unspecified numbers” of F-35s and buys of other airplane types. Kendall “strongly endorsed” the F-35 and its capabilities on Wednesday, saying Pentagon leaders next month would assess the long-term ownership cost estimate just released by the F-35 program office. He said he was surprised by how much the cost dropped in the estimate—from $1.1 trillion to $857 billion for the United States to operate a fleet of 2,443 F-35s for 55 years—although he had expected the number to fall somewhat, according to Reuters.