Official Numbers: Costs Down on F-35

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program will cost $7.5 billion—or half a percent—less than expected in “then-year” dollars, mostly due to lower labor and inflation costs, the Pentagon announced Thursday. In its annual Selected Acquisition Reports, the Pentagon said the F-35 will cost $1.4076 trillion by the time the program is done in 53 years, counting anticipated future inflation and all costs, including military construction, training, flying hours, sustainment, and manpower. The change in cost is as measured from Fiscal 2013 to 2014. In base year Fiscal 2012 dollars, the reduction was .03 percent. In a breakout of the Pentagon’s then-year numbers, the JSF program office said research and development costs were unchanged, at $54.9 billion. Procurement decreased by $7.7 billion, due to lower labor and subcontractor costs, meaning the aircraft themselves are getting cheaper to buy. That was offset by a jump of $4.4 billion in military construction, however, driven by a “service revised estimate on remaining work.” Because FY ’14 isn’t a “milestone” year for the program, an adjusted operating and sustainment cost isn’t reported in the SARs. The JSF office said, however, that it shows a reduction of $57.8 billion in O&S over the program’s lifetime. “The current F-35A price is $108 million [with engine] and is $4 million lower than Lot 7 prices,” in program unit costs, which don’t count R&D, the program office said.