The Pentagon on March 19 released new unit cost estimates for the F-35 strike fighter, indicating that the program had increased by 57 to 89 percent over its established baseline. As we reported earlier, Pentagon acquisition chief Ash Carter had told the Senate Armed Services that the F-35 would break Nunn-McCurdy cost-monitoring thresholds. Anything over a 50 percent increase above the baseline, per Nunn-McCurdy, requires program recertification. Per the just-released cost estimates, in then-year dollars, which some consider a more accurate rendering, each F-35 will cost between $114 million and $135 million. The Pentagon had expected to buy 2,852 fighters in the original baseline program; the new estimates are based on 2,443 aircraft.
In a nighttime ceremony contrived to continue concealment of many of its features, the new B-21 bomber rolled out of Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, Calif. plant Dec. 2. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the aircraft's advanced technology represents "deterrence, the American way."