The US Department of Defense today confirmed the cost estimate for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter procurement has leaped between 57% and 89% since contract award eight years ago.
The new estimate raises the average cost of the latest Lockheed Martin stealth fighter from $59 million to between $93 million and $112 million, the DOD says. If adjusted for inflation over the programme's 30-year production plan, the average cost per aircraft grows to $114 million to $135 million.
The average cost is based on the DOD's plan to buy 2,443 operational F-35s through 2035.
The data confirms prior statements indicating the F-35 could breach a cost ceiling mandated under the Nunn-McCurdy Law, which triggers an automatic review of the programme.
DOD officials unveiled a sweeping restructuring of the programme on 1 February. The key changes, which included replacing the government programme manager, adding four flight test aircraft and slashing the five-year production plan by 120 aircraft, anticipated the restructuring required under the Nunn-McCurdy Law.