Twenty-Two Percent is Real

Press reports about F-35 lifecycle costs—indicating that the new estimate is $857 billion versus the previous estimate of $1.1 trillion, or 22 percent less—were accurate, said F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan. “We’re working well” with the Pentagon’s independent cost-assessment shop to get to figures both teams can agree on, he said during a Sept. 17 interview. One difference of opinion: the cost-assessment office’s estimates assume seasoned maintainers will be doing the repair work, since senior people have been tapped for the program so far. But eventually those jobs will be done by two-stripers, said Bogdan. Such assumptions make a “huge difference” in cost over the 53 years for which the cost estimators are required to forecast. Bogdan asserted that opponents of the F-35 have “too many opinions, not enough facts.” He considers himself an honest broker and is not afraid to tell bad news about the F-35, or in this case, good news.