Young Details JSF Costs

Pentagon acquisition boss John Young said June 6 it takes thoughtful analysis to understand the reasons for the cost growth in the F-35 program over the past five years. “You cannot simply look at this [program] and determine it’s out of control,” Young told reporters in the Pentagon. “Is the increase bad? Yes, but it’s not a crisis.” Three days prior, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said during a committee hearing with Young that the F-35 program’s projected total costs have increased by $37 billion over the last five years. Young on June 6 broke down the increases, pointing out that $13 billion followed increased cost of materials due to global demand. The Navy’s decision to cut the quantity of the Navy/Marine Corps buy by 409 airframes down to 680 caused per-unit costs to spike. And labor increases were also a factor. A further example that led to cost increases is the challenge of estimating materials, such as the size of a block of steel needed to carve down into a bulkhead, he said. “We were not as efficient there.” Those challenges alone drove some higher materials costs to the tune of about $11 billion over five years, he said. Incidentally, DOD’s most recent cost estimates for the F-35 showed that the program actually dropped in cost by about $1 billion, to $298.84 billion, down from $299.82 billion. This estimate covers the final quarter of 2007. This led Young to tell lawmakers in March that the F-35 program is “well managed and well run.”