The F-35 fighter will now cost more than $2 trillion

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The F-35 fighter jet program will cost taxpayers more than $2 trillion over its lifetime, cementing its place as one of the most expensive weapons programs in U.S. history, according to new estimates from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent government watchdog.

The new price tag represents a dramatic jump from a 2018 estimate that set the program’s total cost at $1.7 trillion. Most of the bump comes from projected sustainment costs, which increased by 44 percent to a cool $1.58 trillion over the lifetime of the program. The Pentagon also extended the projected life of the plane to 2088 rather than the previous goal of 2077.

The news comes as Congress considers President Joe Biden’s budget proposal for next year, which asks for a record $895 billion in military funding. The spending package is separate from the White House’s request for $106 billion to fund weapons transfers to and security cooperation with Israel, Taiwan and Ukraine, which is still languishing in the House after passing the Senate earlier this year.

Of course, it’s not all bad news on the financial front. The Pentagon has brought down the estimated lifetime cost per F-35 by simply buying more jets and reducing the number of flight hours they will be expected to perform each year, according to the GAO.

But this is less than ideal on the war-fighting side of the equation. All three versions of the F-35 continue to fall far short of their target “mission capable rates,” a term of art referring to the percentage of time that any given aircraft is actually ready for battle. In 2023, the average F-35A was only in flying shape about 52% of the time — far short of the 90% target set by the Air Force, the GAO reports.

The jets have often been stuck on the ground due to engine design flaws that cause the aircraft to overheat, damaging parts and boosting maintenance costs. This inability to stay in the air has made it more difficult to get pilots sufficient training in real-life scenarios, which increases the likelihood of crashes and other costly accidents, according to Dan Grazier of the Project on Government Oversight.

The effort to fix these engine issues helps show why the F-35’s costs keep rising. In the early 2010s, the Pentagon asked military contractors to propose a new engine prototype while simultaneously pushing RTX subsidiary Pratt and Whitney to upgrade its original F-35 engine. Last year, the Defense Department told Congress that it no longer needs the $588 million per year prototype program, but lawmakers refused to kill it, choosing instead to fund the prototype and the upgrades simultaneously in a move one expert derided as “just throwing money at everything.”

Members of Congress defended the decision to keep the prototype by arguing that it will help advance technology for the next generation of fighter jets. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) — a lead proponent of keeping the General Electric-led engine program — also happens to have a brand new GE Aerospace plant in his district.

Besides parochial concerns, the Pentagon also tends to underestimate the cost of programs in early stages of development. Just last week, the Congressional Budget Office revealed that the Navy drastically underestimated the cost of a new medium landing ship to carry small Marine Corps units. Early estimates put the program’s cost at $2.6 billion, but CBO says the Pentagon will most likely have to shell out between $6.2 billion and $7.8 billion for the ships — an overrun of more than 100%.
https://responsiblestatecraft.org/f35-cost/

So we are still flying B-52 bombers that were last built when JFK was in office, F-16s last built in 2017, F-18, and A-10s that are just as old. This is the usual boondoggle of cost overruns and broken promises of dream features the military/industrial complex can't deliver. But the Congress Critters still collect money from the military/industrial complex so they vote to spend on these big mistakes.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.-Huxley
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." ~ Louis Brandeis,

Re: The F-35 fighter will now cost more than $2 trillion

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senorgrand wrote: Fri Apr 19, 2024 12:10 pm I feel like the platform is the last great gasp of manned fighter jets. The future is clearly drones and missiles.
Yep. At some point we are going to see smaller countries that we decide to pick on downing our expensive planes and pilots with inexpensive drones and missiles. It’s going to be interesting to see which larger military powers make the transition first.
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"Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated!" Loquacious of many. Texas Chapter Chief Cat Herder.

Re: The F-35 fighter will now cost more than $2 trillion

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senorgrand wrote: Fri Apr 19, 2024 12:10 pm I feel like the platform is the last great gasp of manned fighter jets. The future is clearly drones and missiles.
I have the same feeling - manned jets are probably very close to over.

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Re: The F-35 fighter will now cost more than $2 trillion

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senorgrand wrote: Fri Apr 19, 2024 12:10 pm I feel like the platform is the last great gasp of manned fighter jets. The future is clearly drones and missiles.
I agree drones in the air and also on the ground. Eventually the wars will be fought by AI robotics. Already they are looking at AI Drones in the air. As soon as Amazon or WalMart starts using drones in the air to deliver packages the Military will use the same technology to deliver bombs and other weapons to the enemy. Then Law enforcement will want the surplus drones to "fight crime". Already police departments use remote controlled rovers to collect bombs or subdue criminals that are barricaded in buildings. Using AI they can even just give commands and let it do its thing.

These ideas aren't new. My Dad was the NCOIC of the SAC gunnery range at Matagorda Island TX in the early 1950s. They had the OQ19 target drones that were used to train gunners for the B-36. These drones were radio controlled. One of the things they talked about was using drones to drop bombs. on the enemy. They even attached a bomb release to a drones and put a dummy bomb on it then flew it to an area and dropped the bomb hitting the target.They were ahead of their times.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.-Huxley
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." ~ Louis Brandeis,

Re: The F-35 fighter will now cost more than $2 trillion

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The B-52 Stratofortress was first manufactured in the 1960s and they are still flying. They continue to be upgraded, they'll be getting new Rolls Royce engines replacing the Pratt & Whitney ones and they'll be around until 2060. I assume the F-35 fighter jets will be around for quite a few years.
https://www.defensenews.com/air/2022/03 ... e-on-life/
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Re: The F-35 fighter will now cost more than $2 trillion

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highdesert wrote: Fri Apr 19, 2024 6:55 pm The B-52 Stratofortress was first manufactured in the 1960s and they are still flying. They continue to be upgraded, they'll be getting new Rolls Royce engines replacing the Pratt & Whitney ones and they'll be around until 2060. I assume the F-35 fighter jets will be around for quite a few years.
https://www.defensenews.com/air/2022/03 ... e-on-life/
It’s still an obsolete plane.
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"Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated!" Loquacious of many. Texas Chapter Chief Cat Herder.

Re: The F-35 fighter will now cost more than $2 trillion

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The title of this thread reads like each F-35 costs $2 trillion, it doesn't it's the total cost of the F-35 program over its lifetime. Drones and missiles aren't at the point where they can replace fighter jets, Iran's attack on Israel is the latest example. Israeli, US, UK and Jordanian Air Force jets shot down almost all of the 300 drones, cruise and ballistic missiles that Iran aimed at Israel. Maybe sometime in the future drones and missiles will make fighters obsolete but not now.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Re: The F-35 fighter will now cost more than $2 trillion

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highdesert wrote: Fri Apr 19, 2024 6:55 pm The B-52 Stratofortress was first manufactured in the 1960s and they are still flying. They continue to be upgraded, they'll be getting new Rolls Royce engines replacing the Pratt & Whitney ones and they'll be around until 2060. I assume the F-35 fighter jets will be around for quite a few years.
https://www.defensenews.com/air/2022/03 ... e-on-life/
FYI it was first built in the 1950 and last B-52 H was manufactured and delivered in June of 1962.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.-Huxley
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." ~ Louis Brandeis,

Re: The F-35 fighter will now cost more than $2 trillion

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The B-52A first flew in 1954, and the B model entered service in 1955. A total of 744 B-52s were built with the last, a B-52H, delivered in October 1962. The first of 102 B-52H's was delivered to Strategic Air Command in May 1961. The H model can carry up to 20 air launched cruise missiles. In addition, it can carry the conventional cruise missile that was launched in several contingencies during the 1990s, starting with Operation Desert Storm and culminating with Operation Iraqi Freedom.
https://www.afgsc.af.mil/About/Fact-She ... 0missiles.

You're right TT, first built in the 1950s.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Re: The F-35 fighter will now cost more than $2 trillion

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highdesert wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2024 10:43 am
The B-52A first flew in 1954, and the B model entered service in 1955. A total of 744 B-52s were built with the last, a B-52H, delivered in October 1962. The first of 102 B-52H's was delivered to Strategic Air Command in May 1961. The H model can carry up to 20 air launched cruise missiles. In addition, it can carry the conventional cruise missile that was launched in several contingencies during the 1990s, starting with Operation Desert Storm and culminating with Operation Iraqi Freedom.
https://www.afgsc.af.mil/About/Fact-She ... 0missiles.

You're right TT, first built in the 1950s.
What's really funny, we have pilots that are flying B-52s that their Fathers and Grandfathers flew the same plane.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.-Huxley
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." ~ Louis Brandeis,

Re: The F-35 fighter will now cost more than $2 trillion

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sikacz wrote: Fri Apr 19, 2024 12:52 pm
senorgrand wrote: Fri Apr 19, 2024 12:10 pm I feel like the platform is the last great gasp of manned fighter jets. The future is clearly drones and missiles.
Yep. At some point we are going to see smaller countries that we decide to pick on downing our expensive planes and pilots with inexpensive drones and missiles. It’s going to be interesting to see which larger military powers make the transition first.
My understanding of the plane is that it relies greatly on sensors and electronic countermeasures. Kind of sounds like a stand-off jet fighter that detects the enemy 120 miles out and is supposed to be able to destroy them before an adversary gets close. However, if they do manage to get past all that....

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