F-35 Costs Drop

The cost of the F-35 program actually went down in the last quarter of 2007, the Pentagon reported April 7. According to the quarterly selected acquisition report, the projected cost of the F-35 program decreased by 0.3 percent, or nearly a billion dollars, due to lower than anticipated support costs, labor rates, and learning curve improvements, as well as other factors. All told, there was a reduction of about $11 billion in the program, but this was offset by increases of nearly the same amount, attributed to materials costs and additional factors. The three variants of the F-35, including development, military construction, and support costs, will total $298.84 billion, down from $299.82 billion, states the SAR. Lockheed Martin F-35 Vice President and General Manger Dan Crowley, in a teleconference with reporters April 8, said cost data have become “more refined” now that his team has gained experience in building the first 20 airframes for flight testing. He also said this report indicates that the F-35 design philosophy is working, and that, for the first time in a fighter program, cost is no longer directly related to weight.