From One Generation to the Next

Le Bourget, France The fifth generation F-35 strike fighter is on pace to cost the equivalent of fourth generation fighters, Steve O’Bryan, Lockheed Martin vice president for F-35 program integration, told reporters here on Wednesday. “We are on a path to reduce the aircraft’s cost . . . to what is in about 2020 about $85 million” in then-year dollars factoring inflation, he said during his media briefing at the 50th Paris Air Show. “In today’s US dollars, that is about $75 million. We believe that is on par with any fourth generation airplane,” he added. O’Bryan said this estimate is the recurring unit flyway cost, which includes the airframe, engine, all missions systems, and any concurrency expenditures. “This is the US government estimate,” he noted. Every F-35 production contract that Lockheed Martin has signed thus far has been under the US government’s cost estimate, said O’Bryan. For example, the most recent contract—for the fifth batch of low-rate initial production—”was 3 percent below that estimate,” he said. “Both Lockheed [Martin] and the US government expect that trend to continue,” he said. From the time of LRIP 1 to LRIP 5, “we have dropped the price of the airplane by over 50 percent,” said O’Bryan during his June 19 presentation.