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.
The Pentagon awarded a contract worth over $2 billion for the next batch of F-35 engines to Pratt & Whitney on June 5. The deal for Lot 17 F135 engines, totaling $2.02 billion, is expected to be completed by December 2025.