Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Is the F-35 worth $1.1 billion each?

A billion dollar fighter?
A recent article in the Hill Times (pay wall, sorry) states that total operating costs for the F-35 could reach $71 billion under a "worst case scenario".  Basically, the previous figure of $46 billion for 65 jets over 42 years could very well creep up depending on currency fluctuation, delays in production, or other unforeseen events.  This figures out to $1.09 billion per aircraft, over its lifetime in the RCAF.

Yikes.

Mind you, a lot of these factors would likely increase the price of ANY aircraft, but so much about the F-35's eventual cost is up in the air.  This uncertainty was the primary reason for its disqualification from South Korea's fighter selection, as well as giving other countries second thoughts.  Testing is still problematic, and U.S. Government funding isn't exactly a sure thing right now.

Even the $9 billion slotted to buy the initial 65 aircraft is looking overly optimistic, with the estimated cost quickly approaching that figure.  Even DND's "contingency budget" for the F-35 had to be cut from $602 million to $342 million (when it should be almost 5 times that) in order to make the numbers work.
Needless to say, opposition NDP and Liberal parties are crying foul, calling for an open fighter competition to replace the CF-18.  When the cost of the purchase reaches its arbitrary $9 billion "cut-off", the current Conservative government might not be left with much other choice.


1 comment:

  1. In my view, this is a mess. With costs most likely rising and our 18s long in the tooth, I think the prudent thing(for the tax payers) to do would sign a contract for an aircraft soon, with some cost certainty. Its easy to predict that if the 35 is chosen with no or little contingency that extra money will need to come from somewhere to pay for additional costs. The tax payer of this or future generations will be on the hook for this. No telling how this would affect other military purchases, not to mention the federal deficit.

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