Lockheed Martin has issued their full rebuttal to a leaked Naval Air Systems Command study that raises alarms about the F-35′s affordability. I publish it here verbatim, as well as the study itself. You be the judge.
Lockheed Martin and the JSF Program Office estimate that life-cycle support costs for the F-35 will be significantly lower than those for the F-16, F/A-18 and the AV-8B based on our acquisition approach, Air System design, detailed cost models and economies of scale.Unlike previous fighter development programs, supportability is a major contractual requirement on F-35, with half of the program’s Key Performance Parameters dedicated to sustainment.F-35 has a design requirement to be twice as reliable and take half the time to repair as the airplanes it is replacing. These requirements influenced every design trade, aircraft configuration decision, and component selection, as well as the strategy for performance-based logistics.Achievement of our supportability goal is accomplished through rigorous system qualification testing and the application of new, advanced diagnostic and prognostic technologies. F-35 Air System design criteria have imposed the most stringent reliability, logistic footprint and sortie-generation rate requirements of any fighter program.In addition, with more than 3000 aircraft in the baseline program and potentially 4500 aircraft with additional Foreign Military Sales, the program economies of scale are unprecedented and will be a significant economic factor favorable to F-35.F-35 will most certainly be less expensive to operate than different platforms operated in small numbers by individual services, allowing countries to share training, maintenance, overhaul, repair and supply costs. Also, F-35 is procuring the spares along with the original production parts to reduce sustainment costs.All of these improvements are reflected in the F-35 Program’s annual detailed life cycle cost estimating process which involves all participating services. This process looks at every element of the life cycle costs for the next 65 years. The NAVAIR figures cited in the leaked internal document are an independent assessment and are not definitive.The F-35 program is committed to working with the JSF Program Office and Naval Air Systems Command to develop the most accurate estimate possible of F-35 life-cycle support.