The total program cost of the F-35A, B, and C fleets, including research, development, test, and evaluation, production, military construction, and operation of a fleet of 2,443 American jets through the year 2070, with inflation, is estimated to be $1.1238 trillion, the Pentagon announced in its annual Selected Acquisition Report on Thursday. This new number is up from last year’s estimate of $1.0165 trillion, but is only higher because the services added six years of operating service to the fleet. Without the change in service life, the estimate would have been $22 billion lower, the system program office announced. F-35 program manager Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said the jet is doing well, logging availability of about 56 percent, mission capable rates of 66 percent, and mission effectiveness rates of 79-80 percent. “Maturity is getting better,” he said. “We are above the growth curves” predicted, he said, asserting that a mission capable (MC) rate of 60 percent is “pretty good” for a jet still in development. USAF’s goal at maturity for a jet is an MC rate of 80 percent, but USAF has been turning in MC rates in the 50-60 percent range for mature jets due to reduced readiness funding in recent years. Per-jet costs on the Air Force’s F-35A have dropped $1.8 million since last year.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.