A reasonable blog about the F-35 although I continue to be amazed how easy it is to mis-interpret the financial cost involved with the platform. In this case the assertion is that the US$319 on procurement has already bene spent when that is clearly not the case. Those procurement dollars cover the 2447 aircraft to be manufactured out to 2043, so far only 350 or so (and the more expensive end of the acquisition given the production ramp up) have been manufactured to US forces. Is the F-35 program a waste of money?
https://thedefensepost.com/2019/09/12/f ... t-opinion/
The F-35 Lightning II is an impressive 5th Generation fighter. Press releases on the platform have covered both the technological sophistication of the aircraft and the seemingly unimaginable expense of producing and maintaining the multirole fighter.
In a recent conversation with a colleague, I was amazed to hear that in his opinion, the cost represented an enormous waste of resources. His position was a surprise to me; however, it wasn’t without merit. In all fairness, the price tag is steep, and to date, the aircraft has had limited use in combat.
According to the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, the current standard unit price for the F-35A variant, including aircraft, engine, and fee is $89.2 million. Other variations of the platform are even more expensive with the unit cost of the F- 35B at $115.5 million. Some estimates of the total cost for the program are as high as $1.508 trillion. It should be noted this estimate assumes a service life for the aircraft through 2070 and is represented in 2070 dollars. Even so, that is still a lot of money.
Research, Development, Test and Engineering totaled $55.1 billion. Procurement was a staggering $319.1 billion. Military Construction (MILCON) was an additional $4.8 billion. These figures represent a sizeable investment before the aircraft could even prove its worth.
The F-35 wasn’t employed in combat operations until May 2018 when the Israeli Air Force announced the use of the platform during two attack missions. Since then it has been used by the U.S., U.K., and Israel a handful of times in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in Syria, primarily against Islamic State targets, a reasonably limited record given the aircraft first flew in late 2006.
With all due respect to my colleague, I can see how the cost and limited use thus far could look like a massive waste of taxpayer dollars.
The reality is it’s too early to tell.
There are three key reasons I believe this to be the case. First, the F-35 will replace numerous older aircraft. Second, the capabilities of the F-35 far surpass current 4th Generation platforms. Finally, the estimated service life through 2070 leaves many years for possible combat use to occur.
Nice shot of the aircraft at a Canadian airshow.