Exclusive: U.S. sees lifetime cost of F-35 fighter at $1.45 trillion

Comments (43)
jackbnimble2 wrote:

No wonder we can’t pay our bills!

Mar 28, 2012 12:43am EDT  --  Report as abuse
jackbnimble2 wrote:

No wonder we can’t pay our bills!

Mar 28, 2012 12:43am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Fantasywriter wrote:

This plane will never equal the Raptor. Just have a look at the projected specs. Another Obama boondoggle.

Mar 29, 2012 1:35am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Ricochet wrote:

The number in isolation means nothing. We have other fighter programs that we’ve operated since the 70s – specifically the F-15 and F-16. Where does it compare to those? How do the numbers purchased (and the cost per plane difference because of those numbers) compare? How realistic is it *for* replacing the multiple aircraft (F-16, F-18, Harrier, etc.) and what kind of savings are we getting (or not getting) for doing so? How are exports (since we have *many* foreign partners signed in to buy these) being figured in and affecting the cost?

Mar 29, 2012 1:51am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Bassy wrote:

Nothing to worry about, it’s only 9.3% of our “National Debt”, $15.6 trillion…

Mar 29, 2012 3:49am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Grumpigeek wrote:

The F35 is a spectacular dud.
Its shape means it is already inferior in the air to Russian and Chinese aircraft.
The F35 program should be dumped.
The F22 is a far superior aircraft and should go back into production with some of the excellent JSF systems installed in it.
This must be done as a matter of urgency if the USA wants to maintain air superiority.

Mar 29, 2012 4:19am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Jim1648 wrote:

It is better than spending $3T invading the wrong country, and defense is not cheap. But we are not that rich, at least until the Republicans are willing to fund the defense spending they demand with some sort of revenue to pay for it.

Mar 29, 2012 5:53am EDT  --  Report as abuse

This is pure lunacy. Unmanned, stealthy, supersonic drones are the next big thing in aerial fighting machines…these F-35′s will be exceedingly expensive and exceedingly vulnerable in a few years…these white elephants will serve as grounded monuments to what happens when the special interests dictate governmental policy.

Mar 29, 2012 5:59am EDT  --  Report as abuse
hogsmile wrote:

$1.45-trillion ….. why we are slaves.

Mar 29, 2012 6:53am EDT  --  Report as abuse
hogsmile wrote:

$1.45-trillion ….. why we are slaves.

Mar 29, 2012 6:53am EDT  --  Report as abuse
VonHell wrote:

lol… just about half billion each plane…
It is not just about price… but the same amount of money keeps a much larger force of F15, F16, F18… with numbers matching the stealth bla bla bla, same weapons …and costing… nothing! cause you already have the planes… lol
China and Russia? well, they will hack, take the blue prints, make half dozen clones just to say “we have the stealth :p” and watch you spend trillions…

Mar 29, 2012 8:45am EDT  --  Report as abuse

what a waste? we can use that money to cover insurance cost of all children under 15 for 10 yrs… sad…

Mar 29, 2012 9:10am EDT  --  Report as abuse

I like the term, “Joint Strike Fighter”….maybe we should just Strike a match and light-up a Joint…why Fight each other over ridiculous and trumped-up causes? Kum-Bah-Yah….Kum-Bah-Yah-Yah….(cough…cough)

Mar 29, 2012 10:03am EDT  --  Report as abuse
BurnerJack wrote:

New York Loner may have a compelling point (at least the one concerning Umanned Combat Vehicles). It remains to be seen how UCAVs perform in actual combat against conventional aircraft. While this jump in the performance envelope is considerable, the present configurations of the F-15 and FA-18 are quite capable already. The question there is how long will they provide air superiority? Before the “Kum-Bah-Yah crowd” chimes in, let me point out that freezing one’s deployed defence capability does not mean the threats out there respond in kind. North Vietnam used any seize fire to restock and reposition, as they should have. To say “changing policy x,y or z will mitigate future threats is capricious, treasonous or both.

Mar 29, 2012 10:38am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Bert2 wrote:

What a waste. We spent 6 times more on defense than China. For what? Why don’t we put this in healthcare, education or small businesses. I agree that republicans should find the revenue first to pay for this. I don’t want to see my taxes go to this. Perhaps we can start a lawsuit up to SCOTUS to contest this defense “mandate” :)

Mar 29, 2012 10:42am EDT  --  Report as abuse
arcoknuti wrote:

This is what happens when the foxes guard the chicken coop. Where is the outrage? Our people are so worried about women’s reproductive rights to be unaware that the crooks that force those issues to the front are reaching into their pockets with the other hand. In our state these monies have kept McCain in office way past his expiration date. And you can be sure that a sufficient share of these monies go to the campaign funds of those who are so willing to sell their vote to keep it coming. Carpetbaggers own the debate while our people are chasing red herring fed to them by the media. Our whole system has become Pink Slime.

Mar 29, 2012 10:45am EDT  --  Report as abuse

Thank you, BurnerJack…my 5:59 post was serious, my 10:03 post, not so much.

But still, the old “Guns vs. Butter” conundrum remains unsolved, here in the states…we are good at designing and building weapons systems…we are not so good at delivering healthcare and other human human services to our citizens.

Don’t get me wrong, there are bad guys out there and we have to deal with that…but we got bad guys on the inside too.

Mar 29, 2012 10:48am EDT  --  Report as abuse
gregbrew56 wrote:

That’s about $4,000 for every man, woman and child is the U.S.A.

Ludicrous.

Mar 29, 2012 10:49am EDT  --  Report as abuse
the_Gaul wrote:

Someone said defense is not cheap. Perhaps not, but this piece of expensive trash has nothing to do with our DEFENSE.

Mar 29, 2012 11:09am EDT  --  Report as abuse
PseudoTurtle wrote:

The F-35 program, the most expense weapons system in the history of this country, is massively over budget and years behind schedule.

The REALLY pathetic part is that it is a weapons system that is ALREADY OBSOLETE, made outdated by the advances in technology since it was conceived in 2001.

There are newer, much cheaper unmanned drones that are ALREADY operational that are doing the job for a fraction of the cost, while the F-35 still won’t be ready for years to come.

Even the Pentagon wants out of the program (and Congress has grown increasingly skeptical about it), but is having trouble doing that due to pressure from lobbyists.

This is a classic example of the US “fighting the last war”, instead of preparing judiciously for the next one.

The concept, even when it was proposed, is ludicrous in the extreme because it somehow wants to combine ALL of our operational military aircraft (i.e. Air Force, Navy and Marines) into a “one size fits all fighter”, supposedly to save costs.

You don’t have to be a military weapons expert to figure out that is not going to work. And as the article points out, one of the major problems is that each branch of military wants its own version — THAT completely defeats the purpose of the program right from the starting line.

This is a (bad) idea that has failed before, and this one is proving it is no exception to the rule. Even countries who initially supported this boondoggle are now publicly looking for the exit, which means the unit cost of each plane will soon become completely unaffordable even to the US military.

We need to stop the insanity, take our losses and get out of one of the worst mistakes this country has ever made in terms of weapons systems.

For an absolutely incredible journey through the insanity of the F-35 program, read “As drones rise, a manned fighter falls” By Phil Radford in yesterday’s Asia Times Online.

For your convenience, here is the link to the article:

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/NC28Dj03.html

Mar 29, 2012 11:31am EDT  --  Report as abuse

Thank you Turtle…that article confirms my suspicions, as expressed in my 5:59 post.

The US also has 3 nuclear aircraft carriers now under construction…in the age of stealthy super-drones I wonder if these too are functionally obsolete…In your educated opinion, could they/should they be reconfigured as drone carriers?

Mar 29, 2012 12:29pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Zaney wrote:

Wow, that is one expensive war machine to fight aliens I guess.

Mar 29, 2012 12:32pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
AlkalineState wrote:

You spend that much on a plane, you’ll be afraid to take it to war and get it muddy. Kind of like the guy next door who polishes the tires on his barbie truck every Saturday.

I guess we could always do like Reagan and try to offset the cost of this useless boondoggle by selling some of the planes to Iran. Did I just say that? Yes. Reagan was an idiot. Sorry, reagan-worshippers.

Mar 29, 2012 12:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
SanPa wrote:

Cut GrannyCare … we need more planes and spare parts.

Mar 29, 2012 1:39pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Quatermass wrote:

Like the F-22 and B-2: too expensive to risk. This is completely asinine.

Mar 29, 2012 1:39pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
AdamSmith wrote:

The F-35 will be easily brought down by hackers of the future.

The F-35 has thousands of computer chips programmed by thousands of Indian engineers working inside American multinational companies under the H1B VISA program, with millions of lines of code. The back doors are invisible, but oh, so easy. All it takes is one line of code.

The chips themselves are manufactured by other American multinational corporations, again employing Indian engineering school graduates, on H1B visas, inside their American chip factories. Not to mention all the computer parts in the F-35 manufactured in China.

Mar 29, 2012 2:17pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
AdamSmith wrote:

The F-35 will be easily brought down by hackers of the future.

The F-35 has thousands of computer chips programmed by thousands of Indian engineers working inside American multinational companies under the H1B VISA program, with millions of lines of code. The back doors are invisible, but oh, so easy. All it takes is one line of code.

The chips themselves are manufactured by other American multinational corporations, again employing Indian engineering school graduates, on H1B visas, inside their American chip factories. Not to mention all the computer parts in the F-35 manufactured in China.

Mar 29, 2012 2:19pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
bulldancer wrote:

In this era of missiles, do we need these kinda strike fighter planes? Looks like the Lockheed lobbyists are doing and excellent job in Washington (I am not saying the ingredients of the “Excellent Job”) Looks like from the very moment we thought about the concept of United States Of America we are in a massive preparation of war. I am not here to give you another history lesson, however we better look back in our history and learn from it all the horrors it will bring and the horrible post trauma the next couple of generations goes through. We need to stop this addiction to war and war mongering and start to learn to create peace. Peace first between us and peace with our neighbors and peace with all we think are enemies who know us better than the friends who don’t care about us in our dire needs.

Mar 29, 2012 2:33pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
GA_Chris wrote:

Reading this makes me think G.W. Bush should stand on an aircraft carrier and say “Mission Accomplished!!” again…

This is a ridiculous program that multiple administrations have supported blindy based on the bribes they get from suppliers. It’s not going to help us fight wars. The only upside it has is creating some job domestically, but seeing that most of the components are sourced globally, even that impact is limited. This makes the Wall street bail out seem like a sensible idea

Mar 29, 2012 3:18pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
actnow wrote:

It’s hard to see any genuine benefit that can be justified at this cost. Yes…we need to be strong, but at what cost to other military programs, our citizens and our tax payers? This defense project smacks of a world class rip-off.

Mar 29, 2012 3:18pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
AlkalineState wrote:

Bulldancer asks: “In this era of missiles, do we need these kinda strike fighter planes?”

When your top two campaign donors as a congressional politician are ‘Lockheed’ and ‘Martin,’ it is absolutely essential to the nation that we have this 1.3 trillion dollar Windows Vista airplane.

It’s free money. The taxpayers will cover it.

Mar 29, 2012 3:39pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
JoeAlpha100 wrote:

Maybe such a big contract can bring much employment to the US, if there are enough number of wars all over the world.

Not sufficient number of wars? Let’s create some …

Mar 29, 2012 4:29pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
leog wrote:

… each of us, including kids, have paid $5,000 for this plane, so, at least can I get a ride on it?

Mar 29, 2012 5:07pm EDT  --  Report as abuse

Just a little more than the cost of toilet seats for Air Force One, taking into account R&D, inflation, maintenance, upgrades, etc., etc.

Mar 29, 2012 5:44pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
yehaw wrote:

Madness

Mar 29, 2012 6:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
yehaw wrote:

lets start another war so we can use these new toys.

Mar 29, 2012 6:25pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
MikeBee wrote:

It is long past time to put the DoD on notice they will have a budget cut of 5% per year for each of the next five years. I am tired of our tax money going to buy overly complex and duplicative military hardware instead of benefiting our own citizens.
We should stop spending so much to kill foreigners and let them kill themselves if they wish.

Mar 29, 2012 7:13pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
AnalyticalAl wrote:

Show me the cost breakdown ,these numbers seem off the wall

Mar 29, 2012 7:14pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
PseudoTurtle wrote:

new_york_loner,

The US also has 3 nuclear aircraft carriers now under construction…in the age of stealthy super-drones I wonder if these too are functionally obsolete…In your educated opinion, could they/should they be reconfigured as drone carriers?

Well, I am certainly no weapons expert, but in the age of cruise missiles any surface ship would obviously be a sitting duck, and the first target of an attack in order take out our stealthy super-drones.

Granted these carriers have defensive weapons designed to take out cruise missiles, but the weapons systems are limited and could be easily overcome.

The short answer to me is to stop building these massive floating targets, which will do us no good in the next war (and like it or not, there will be the next war — always has been, always will be).

For a more practical answer to your question is to look back at the supposed dominance of the battleship “back in the day”, until it was proven for a fact a single aircraft with a well-placed bomb could sink one.

Obviously, we have not learned much since then.

I would think small, highly-mobile forces (similar to what the Marine Corps uses in terms of combat systems) would be ideal for the future, since they can be quickly ramped dispatched to a problem area, and if it turns out to be more than one carrier group can handle, it can be quickly morphed in to a group of carriers until the threat is overcome.

So, think in terms of what the Marine carrier combat groups offer us today, and expand/improve in that idea for the future.

Mar 30, 2012 8:36am EDT  --  Report as abuse
PseudoTurtle wrote:

AdamSmith wrote:

The F-35 will be easily brought down by hackers of the future.

The F-35 has thousands of computer chips programmed by thousands of Indian engineers working inside American multinational companies under the H1B VISA program, with millions of lines of code. The back doors are invisible, but oh, so easy. All it takes is one line of code.

The chips themselves are manufactured by other American multinational corporations, again employing Indian engineering school graduates, on H1B visas, inside their American chip factories. Not to mention all the computer parts in the F-35 manufactured in China.

—————————————————————————————

AdamSmith,

Not only are you absolutely correct — that our whole procurement system has been compromised, and that any computer can be hacked (think the drone hacked into and brought down by Iran with Russian/Chinese technicians), BUT the real problem underlying that is the fact that ALL of these fancy gadgets rely completely on “rare earths” for raw materials.

Rare what?

Welcome to the future, because in EVERYTHING electronic (including your cell phones, the critical components are made of “rare earths”.

So what?

Well, China has a total monopoly on the production of “rare earths”, which means we are more vulnerable militarily to China than we are to those bad guys in the Middle East who control our oil supply.

This may come as somewhat of a shock to a lot of you, so I suggest you check out this Wikipedia link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rare_earths#Global_rare_earth_production

This points out that “China now produces over 95% of the world’s rare earth supply, mostly in Inner Mongolia,[3][12]“.

And the same section of that article also points out that China has recently begun significantly reducing the export of “rare earths”, and the US has just filed an unfair trade action against them (fat lot of good that will do, since they have no intention of complying due to their increasing national security concerns as the US declines in power).

To give you an example that relates to this article, the F-35 program MASSIVELY relies on electronics, so the real problem is not even cost overruns, production delays or the fact that it is already obsolete.

The REAL PROBLEM with the F-35 program is that, due to China’s stranglehold on “rare earths” production, China can cut us off at the knees anytime it wishes to do so, and aside from declaring war on them — not a good idea due to our already heavy reliance on electronics (i.e. we can’t even maintain the weapons systems we have without a supply of “rare earths” from China — we have to accept what they are willing to ship to us, and at whatever price they want.

I’m sure you will sleep better at night knowing that we are far deeper in trouble in the concept of our “push button” military future than most people are willing to admit. (Yes, Congress knows about this, and has hearings on the issue, but no decision yet as to what to do).

In other words, in terms of our military, we took a serious wrong turn some time back. The question is what do we do about it now.

Mar 30, 2012 9:06am EDT  --  Report as abuse
PseudoTurtle wrote:

One final comment on the “rare earths” issue.

Many people argue they are misnamed because the “rare earths” are not rare at all. Indeed they are not.

In fact, the US once led global production from a single plant (closed and now reopened due to this issue) in California.

There are at least two problems with this argument:

(1) Rare earths production takes years to ramp up, even if you know where to find it, and

(2) The residue from its production is a highly hazardous nuclear waster material.

Besides, China is not our enemy, right?

No they are not. But they are not our “dirty back yard” that we use for manufacturing items no longer feasible to manufacture in the US.

They are a sovereign nation, and one that plans on a much longer scale of time than we can even comprehend.

Oh, one other thing.

The present Chinese government that has been so friendly to the US since the early 1980s are not considered to be China’s legitimate government by many Chinese people.

So what?

The present government is about to make a major turnover in its composition, and unless they can convince the Chinese people that they can continue making economic strides to benefit the Chinese people, they are not likely to remain in power.

By the way, have you heard about the supposed abortive coup attempt recently? Right now the Chinese government leadership looks more like a game of “musical chairs” than anything else.

Everything could turn out just hunky-dory, but then …

Even if we mange to dodge the immediate bullet of all these changes due to the collapse of the OECD Empire, our problems are likely to magnify quickly.

The problem there is we are no good at planning ahead, or we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in right now.

Mar 30, 2012 11:37am EDT  --  Report as abuse
actnow wrote:

If congressmen don’t feel the heat to stop supporting duds that buy them votes for their districts, this kind of devestating spending will never stop. It’s up to voters to make it clear to their reps to stop supporting this garbage….even if it’s good for the district or state. Problem is, other congressmen are doing the same, and tax payers lose more than they gain from a few local pork barrel projects.

Mar 30, 2012 11:50am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Yuthink wrote:

why are we paying for development? When I buy a product I buy it complete – I don’t pay to develop it? I thought the army took bids from companies who said we estimate building this for you [ that will do this, that and the other ] for X amount and the winner has x amounts of time to bring that to life at the closest possible price to the bid made????
What is wrong with this?????
I’m going to tell my boss he has to pay me more because he has to develop my pay….

Apr 02, 2012 5:32pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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