Operation and Sustainment Costs No Threat to F-35 Buy

The cost of operating the F-35 strike fighter will be “slightly higher” than the cost of operating the F-16, said Air Force Secretary Michael Donley. However, that fact won’t change the Air Force’s plans to acquire 1,763 of the fighters, he told reporters on April 23 during a meeting in Washington, D.C. “I don’t think there’s a link between projected operational costs and how many we’re going to buy. That discussion has not occurred in the [Defense] Department,” said Donley. The F-35 program manager, Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, “has been working to normalize F-35 projected costs” against the F-16 and F/A-18 across “six different methodologies” used in the Pentagon to count operation and support costs, said Donley. “I think you’ll see some of that reflected in the [selected acquisition report] that comes out in May,” he said. (See also Protect the Bombers, more coverage of Donley’s media event.)