The F-35 program has incurred a major breach of Nunn-McCurdy cost-monitoring thresholds and, per US law, will have to be recertified as sound to continue, Defense Department acquisition executive Ash Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday. He said Air Force Secretary Michael Donley is expected to formally inform Congress of the breach within days. Testifying with Carter, Christine Fox, Pentagon chief for independent cost assessments, said F-35 costs have ballooned by more than 50 percent since 2001, triggering the breach. Back then, the F-35 average procurement unit cost was pegged at $50.2 million in base year 2002 dollars over the entire US buy. Now, the projected per-unit price tag is projected at between $80 million and $95 million in 2002 dollars, she said. (That’s as high as $112 million apiece in today’s dollars.) The recertification should be completed in June, she said. (See Living in the Breach) (Carter’s prepared remarks) (Fox’s prepared remarks)
After a long period in which munitions were almost an afterthought and sacrificed to pay for other priorities, the Air Force needs to focus on them in order to have the right “package” of capabilities for future conflicts, Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said June 7.