The Pentagon will decrease its $1.1 trillion estimate for the cost of supporting Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT)’s F-35 fighter jet over a 55-year lifespan, the top U.S. weapons buyer said.
“It will drop to a number that’s not trivial but is not as much” a reduction “as I would like,” Frank Kendall, the Defense Department’s undersecretary for acquisition, said April 3, 2014 at a Bloomberg Government breakfast in Washington.
While debate over the aircraft, the costliest U.S. weapons system, has focused mostly on the price to develop and build the fighter, Pentagon agencies also have disputed its long-term operating costs, from spare parts to repairs.
Kendall declined to elaborate on the reduced 55-year estimate by the department’s independent cost-assessment office. The figure will be released later this month in its next unclassified Selected Acquisition Report. Until then, the official projection is the $1.1 trillion formulated by that office three years ago.
By contrast, the Pentagon’s F-35 program office estimates that the fleet will cost $857 billion to operate and support over its lifetime.
On the separate cost of developing and producing a planned fleet of 2,443 F-35s, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in February that its projection is $390.4 billion, as adjusted for inflation over the years the plane is produced. The Pentagon’s latest estimate by the same measure is $391.2 billion, about a 1.1 percent reduction from an earlier calculation.
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