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

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 29, 2012 12:19 AM
Exclusive: U.S. sees lifetime cost of F-35 fighter at $1.45 trillion

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The government now projects that the total cost to develop, buy and operate the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will be $1.45 trillion over the next 50-plus years, including inflation, according to an internal Pentagon document obtained by Reuters.

That estimate is up from about $1 trillion a year ago.

The projected total lifetime cost is based on the Pentagon's continued plan to buy 2,443 of the new radar-evading, supersonic warplanes, plus 14 development aircraft, in coming decades. It includes estimated operating and maintenance costs of $1.11 trillion, and development and procurement costs of $332 billion.

The Pentagon's new F-35 program estimates are part of a revised baseline dated March 26 that will be included in a mandatory report on the cost of major acquisition programs, which the Pentagon is due to deliver to Congress on Thursday.

The new baseline forecasts the average cost of the F-35 fighter, including research and development (R&D) and inflation, will be $135 million per plane, plus an additional $26 million for the F135 engine built by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp.

In 2012 dollars, the average cost of each single-seat, single-engine plane, including R&D, would be $112.5 million, plus $22 million for the engine.

This is the first year that the government has separated out the cost of the plane and the engine, and comparison figures were not immediately available.

(Reporting By Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)