Lockheed’s F-35 $1.5 Trillion Operational Cost Just Grew – Again

Apparently, the Pentagon prefers to dole out information about costs of the F-35 program in portions.

Lambasting Lockheed Martin’s F-35 multirole fighter for its cost has become almost passé at this point. With its $1.5 trillion price tag, criticizing it is about as fun as kicking a broken, bleeding opponent. Yet it just won’t give up: the program cost just keeps rising, with no end in sight.

The thing is, the $1.5 trillion figure is separated into several uneven segments. The actual plane design cost (known as “research, development, test and evaluation”) is a humble $55.1 billion. Procurement costs are estimated at $319 billion, which is fair enough, considering warplanes are expensive toys in general. A small $5 billion fraction of the program cost goes to military construction — obviously, one needs facilities for the new plane fleet.

Enter operations and sustainment from 2011 to 2077, a mammoth $1.1238 trillion, estimated in 2015 dollars. Already a big number, it just got bigger — by $73 billion, no less, which is more than the entire cost of research and development. So, now it’s $1.196 trillion.

The number comes from the Pentagon’s latest Selected Acquisition Report (SAR), an annual cost assessment of major projects, Bloomberg reported Monday. Where does the cost increase come from? Well, for the first time in the plane’s history, the Pentagon accounted for the upcoming set of modifications and upgrades that should replace the current…

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