Bolt of Savings

The F-35 program—including aircraft, engines, fuel, spare parts, military construction, training, etc.—will cost 22 percent less than previously forecast, according to press reports. The new cost estimate comes in at $857 billion, down from the $1.1 trillion estimate that is now two years old, but which still represents the official Pentagon estimate, reported Bloomberg on Aug 21. The new estimate covers cost-of-ownership over 55 years; the Pentagon revised the estimate downward in part because of real-world cost experience from 7,000 hours of flight time on multiple F-35s flying test missions, according to the report. F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan included the new cost estimate in answers for the record that he submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee. In text accompanying the estimate, Bogdan said he expects costs to continue shrinking as the program matures. He also forecasted that unit costs for the three variants would continue to fall. (See also Full F-35 Buy on Handshake Deal.)