What the hell is going on here? Talk about the world's biggest project implosion.
Including inflation, the government now expects each F-35 to cost an average of $133.6 million. But even that figure could swell to more than $150 million when revised estimates are completed in June.
Lockheed Martin counters this by saying:
But Lockheed Martin spokesman Chris Geisel said in an e-mailed statement: "We can foresee no scenario in which F-35 unit costs are even close to the projections ... cited in the Inside Defense article."
Yet only a month ago, speaking before a Senate committee, DoD project managers said:
The F-35 unit cost estimate is incomplete because the $114 million to $135 million "Average Procurement Unit Cost" , to buy 2,443 aircraft does not include any research, development, test and evaluation for the F-35. The best available estimate of those additional development costs is about $60 billion. When added to the estimated $329 billion to produce the F -35s, the unit cost vary from $139 million to $160 million.
...So it appears that the cost of the aircraft could very well approach those numbers. Those same officials reported that the first batch of 43 aircraft will cost approximately $201million per unit! But that the costs would go down over time, as the learning curve made production more efficient.
One of the division directors of the CDI, Winslow Wheeler, says that we cannot rely on claims that the "learning curve" will eventually reduce the costs of the F-35, and uses the F-22 as a prime example:
Indeed, the F-22 program is an excellent precursor for the F-35. Both aircraft are "fifth generation" aircraft that combine "stealth" with complex long range, radar systems. ..... Both rely heavily on extensive computerization. .... Both programs employ concurrent development and production. .... Both are from the same prime contractor and to a large extent the same aviation bureaucracy in the Pentagon. .... There are no other contemporary US aircraft with a more closely related design, production, and bureaucratic heritage. Due to its more complex nature, the schedule and cost of the F-35 can be expected to experience more delays and increases in the future than the F-22 did. In other words, using the F-22 "learning curve" should underestimate future F-35 developments.
It just does not appear that this program will ever meet the promises made.