Friday, December 14, 2012

Canada still confused about acquisition costs for F-35

There is a lot of noise out of Canada recently about the actual acquisition costs if they want the F-35A as a CF-18 replacement.

The $9-billion is predicated on a new per-plane price of about $90-million, according to reports. Independent estimates of the all-in per-plane cost of an F-35, including the weapons systems, come in at $150-million or more. Even that, at best, is an educated guess. The price is tied to the number of orders in a given year. If there are further delays or cancellations — which is likely, given recessions in Europe and Japan — the cost rises.

It is doubtful that anyone will see a $90M F-35 unless someone just wants to roll it out of the factory and park it.

Below are a few snapshots out of the United States Air Force fiscal year 2013 procurement budget for the F-35A. For at least the year fy2013 it is valid as this budget has been approved. What is shown are procurement dollars and not research and development. Further, it shows what the USAF expects to pay to get an aircraft out into an actual flying squadron.

Here is a look at what they are paying for just some of the core F-35A systems:


And what they expect to pay for a squadron-ready aircraft:

(click on images to make larger)

The history of USAF predictions for future F-35A costs hasn't been all that good. Higher is always the trend when it comes to handing over the money.

And, the aircraft being being bought (this will continue until at least 2020) have not been operationally tested with real complete-to-specification weapons systems.

Billions for mistake-jets.

Until there is a fully functional F-35A in working Block 3 trim with a few years of use by a real operational (not test) squadron, we will not know the true worth of the aircraft.


Anonymous said...

One should note that the whole justification for 'staying the course' on F-35 Procurement is the pre-conceived and completely speculated weapon system price drop off a cliff from FY14 to FY15 and then again the further drop off in FY16...

Nice gesture, but unfortunately there's no evidence or realistic way that should happen given all tight YoY cost trends thus far (not including the retrofit fix-it costs) and likeliness of continued order reductions given the austere budget environments ahead.

Sometimes it would seem as if circular logic dominates and the advertised unit cost 'estimates' are mere numbers pulled from the air to simply sound affordable and appear 'on track'.

However, watch for an FY14 surprise in projected cost estimates. (ie, revision, or restructuring, or whatever it will be called then).

Then the political machinery will start to shift to seeking urgent alternatives and pathetic mass finger pointing.

Sorry, too little, too late then fellas... truly catastrophic.

Mike said...

Liars, liars, pants on fire

Peter said...

First of all the F-35 program “5th Generation” is a very silly, mindless glee shape idea

Pierre Sprey is a defence analyst who spent 20 years working at the Pentagon and helped designed one of the most successful jet fighters ever, the F-16 Fighting Falcon and A-10 Warthog.