Pentagon predicts F-35 program costs to jump by $27 billion: report

Pentagon predicts F-35 program costs to jump by $27 billion: report

The Pentagon’s F-35 fighter jet program, the most expensive program to date, is expected to jump by at least $27 billion in costs, Bloomberg reported.

The total acquisition cost for the Lockheed Martin-made F-35 is predicted to spike about 7 percent to at least $406.5 billion, according to a draft of the Selected Acquisition Report, to be submitted to Congress this week. 

The uptick follows several years of declining estimates. The report expected the current cost of $379 billion from a previous high of $398.5 billion in early 2014.

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F-35 program spokesman Joe DellaVedova didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg on the cost estimate increase. The Joint Strike Fighter program office typically waits until the report is formally released to Congress before commenting.

Delayed testing could be one reason for the increase. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) in April released a report that said “cascading F-35 testing delays” could add more than $1 billion to the cost of the program.

An extended production of the Air Force’s 1,763 F-35A models could also add to the new cost estimate, as could additional Marine Corps and Air Force F-35 variants.

The program cost increase cited in the report for Congress does not mean higher costs for future aircraft contracts, but the findings are still likely to draw attention from the White House.

President Trump has spoken out frequently in trying to lower F-35 contract costs, and met several times with Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson.

Prior to his inauguration, Trump tweeted that the costs of the program were “out of control.” He then took credit for a price decrease in the Pentagon’s February agreement to buy 90 more planes for $728 million less than the last batch.

Experts have said the price per plane was already on the decline.