Pentagon Estimates $1 Trillion For JSF Operations
Amount Projected To Fly 2,443 F-35 Fighters For 50 Years.
Operation of a fleet of 2,443 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters will cost the U.S. taxpayers nearly a trillion dollars over 50 years, according to Lt. Gen. Terry Robling, deputy commandant of the Marine Corps for aviation. The Pentagon is reportedly looking into ways to drive those costs down.
n an interview with Reuters, Robling said that while it is understood that the cost of the program is high, "everybody was on board" to continue with initial low-rate production of the aircraft. He had just attended a ceremony involving three of the VTOL "B" variant of the airplane at Eglin AFB in Florida.
Robling sad that unless those costs can be constrained, the Pentagon will be faced with difficult choices, including buying fewer of the jets, or reducing anticipated flight hours. All of those decisions, he said, are five to 10 years in the future.
While Robling said that the program is "unaffordable" given the current estimates, that figure is a moving target while the aircraft is still in development. He noted that projected operating costs of the V-22 Osprey had fallen 30 percent since it was first introduced. "We'll learn on the JSF as we go," he said, adding that the costs were expected to be lower. Among the factors in lower operating costs are the airplane's composite construction, which will eliminate much standard anti-corrosion work, as well as the number of sensors installed on the aircraft which will help maintenance personnel better isolate and address issues with the aircraft.
He added that both prime contractor Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon had come a long way in program management over the past two years, finding significant savings.
Source: 28 February 2012 - www.marines.mil
Photo: A group of Lockheed F-35B Lightning II fighters (Photo by Lockheed Martin)