The F-35 – the one of the most highly inspirational project from Lockheed Martin has been in troubled water since a long time.
According to the latest report, the future of this so claimed the most stealthy aircraft ever built, F-35, looks even more troubled.
F-35 fighter jet program is already the most expensive weapon system ever undertaken by the Pentagon.
Unfortunately, the expenditure doesn’t look to halt down any soon, as the it expected to reach $ 406.5 billion.
As per a scoop for a document called a Selected Acquisition Report, the procurement cost for F-35 fighter jet is expected to increase by 7% over the last projection of $379 billion.
In case you are not surprised by this.
You will definitely get surprised by hearing this.
When the operation and maintenance of the F-35 are counted in than the expenditure is expected to increase by $1.1 trillion in the next 10 years or so.
This means that an additional of $35 billion will be spend on this project.
Now, if the deteriorating reliability of F-35 is not fixed any soon than these numbers can go even higher for the Pentagon and the Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of this fighter jet.
The Pentagon thought of starting the F-35 Fighter jet project because it wanted to replace nearly all the fighter aircraft that are used by Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy.
In the first place, a basic model was created, than each service added their special features. For example Marine wanted an aircraft that can takeoff from very little runway and can land vertically.
Requirements from different services resulted in repeated modification to the aircraft, which ultimately resulted in more expenditure.
Cost overrun and performance issues of the F-35 have been clearly evident since the project started more than a dozen years back.
President Donald Trump, who is an aviation buff himself, had labeled this project as “out of control” in one of his tweet.
In a speech to Congress he talked about saving hundreds of millions of dollars of tax payers by pushing down the expenditure on the new F-35 fighter jet.
It is not clear as to how the intervention from Donald Trump resulted in the rise of acquisition estimate.
According to program’s manager, Vice Admiral Mat Winter, the F-35 program continues to make steady progress and is within all costs, schedule and performance thresholds.
One factor that has increased the expenditure is that the Pentagon wants to have more aircraft.
The acquisition report tells congress that the Marine Corp wants to have 13 more units of this state-of-the-art F-35 fighter aircraft. The service wants to increase its fleet of aircraft to 2,456 units.
According to Pentagon, the overall average acquisition cost per fighter jet has increased to $165 million from $154 million as per the current dollar value.
Mark Johnson, the spokesman of Lockheed Martin, says that the acquisition report has not been reviewed by the company till yet, but the cost of F-35 program is coming down gradually.
Mark gave the example of the Air Force version of F-35 aircraft whose per unit cost is $95 million. This price is a 62% reduction since the year 2010.
The F-35 Fighter Jet is fitted with next generation sensor systems and is claimed to be one of the most stealthy aircraft, however, it is said to be a delicate one.
According to a presentation made by the director of Pentagon on May 8th and as per reports obtained by Bloomberg News, the F-35 is not as reliable as was expected and it takes longer to fix the aircraft.
The presentation detailed that nearly 20% of the aircraft are lying in maintenance depots as Lockheed Martin is not able to meet the increase in demand and provide spare parts for returned units.
The presentation also disclosed that the training of pilots has been affected along with fly rates as spare parts of more than 200 F-35 aircraft is still being awaited.