Sustaining the Joint Strike Fighter
Recently published review of the F-35 program by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) stated the current sustainment cost projection by Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) for all U.S. aircraft, based on an estimated 30-year service life, exceeds $1 trillion. Using current program assumptions of aircraft inventory and flight hours, CAPE recently estimated annual operating and support costs of $18.2 billion for all F-35 variants compared to $11.1 billion spent on legacy aircraft in 2010. Based on current estimates, the cost of a flying hour on that aircraft would $23,900, about 10 percent higher a flight hour of a single-engine F-16.
DOD officials have declared that operating and support costs of this magnitude are unaffordable and the department is actively engaged in evaluating opportunities to reduce those costs, such as basing and infrastructure reductions, competitive sourcing, and reliability improvements. “We must start today to attack the long term life cycle costs of the F-35 weapon system.” F-35 PEO General Bogdan agrees.
“We continue to work with the prime contractors to achieve an efficient Performance Based Logistics environment at the overarching weapon system level. “ Bogdan concluded, “The ultimate goal of all of this work is to produce a mutually beneficial sustainment enterprise that – with relevant metrics and incentives – operates, manages and supports the global system, while meeting warfighter-defined readiness and cost objectives.”
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Other topics addressed by Bogdan were: