Home » Aviation » Lockheed: F-35A Cost To Drop Below $80 Million Per Fighter In 2023


Lockheed: F-35A Cost To Drop Below $80 Million Per Fighter In 2023

Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson, F-35 Heritage Flight Team pilot and commander, performs a tactical pitch maneuver in an F-35A Lightning II during the California Capital Airshow on Sept. 23, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif.

Lockheed Martin is committed to producing the F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter for $80 million each by next year and further reducing the overall program costs as part of the next production contract negotiations with the Department of Defense, the company said on Tuesday

In 2022, Lockheed Martin officials expect to negotiate the next multiyear F-35 contract with the Joint Program Office. The goal is to use the steady cash flow from a multiyear contract to drive down further the production costs once the contract kicks in.

As part of a pitch for multiyear contract, Lockheed Martin officials say such a deal will lower the F-35A price to less than $80 million per fighter, Marillyn Hewson, chief executive of Lockheed Martin, told analysts during a conference call today discussing the company’s 2018 year-end results and expectations for 2019.

“That’s our target, to continue to drive the unit cost down,” Hewson said. “And we won’t stop there, we will always be looking at ways that we can take the cost down in the program as it continues to mature and grows.”

Currently, the F-35A, the standard take-off and landing variant primarily used by the U.S. Air Force and foreign partners, has a price tag of $89.2 million. The F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variant used by the Marine Corps and some foreign partners currently cost $115.5 million each, and the F-35C carrier variant used by the Navy cost $107.7 million per fighter, according to Lockheed Martin.

As production increases, the price per F-35 is expected to decrease due to efficiencies in the production process and the ability to lock in lower prices for large quantities of raw materials and components. Lockheed Martin plans to deliver 131 fighters this year, compared to the 91 F-35 fighters delivered in 2018. Within two years, company officials expect to deliver more than 161 fighters per year.

However, with F-35 production is closing in on what’s considered the full capacity for the program of record, Hewson said the company could build more.

Increasing the production rate would require coordination with the JPO, the supply chain and international customers, but Hewson said the company could handle increased demand. Germany, Switzerland and Finland are currently considering buying the F-35, Hewson said.

Already the U.S. and 12 other countries are either part of the program of record or committed to purchasing F-35 fighters, according to Lockheed Martin.

“We could certainly go to a higher rate if the demand were such that we needed to do that,” Hewson said.

Other segments of Lockheed Martin’s weapons systems portfolio are also expected to perform well in 2019. The company’s Missiles and Fire Control business are expected to record a profit of between $1.3 billion and $1.4 billion in the year. The Rotary and Mission Systems business is expected to record a profit of about $1.3 billion for the year, Bruce Tanner, Lockheed Martin’s chief financial officer, said during the call.

After the call, the U.S. Department of State’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced it approved the sale of two Aegis Weapon Systems, two Multi-Mission Signal Processors and two Command and Control Processor refreshes to Japan.

Lockheed Martin’s Rotary and Mission Systems division is the prime contractor for the Aegis Weapon System and Multi-Mission Signal Processor portion of the $2.1-billion total buy. Japan selected Lockheed Martin in July to outfit its Aegis Ashore system but needed State Department approval before finalizing the deal.

In September, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force successfully tested its sea-based Aegis ballistic missile defense capability with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. Japan currently has four Aegis-equipped destroyers and is in the process of building two more.

The following is the State Department notice it approved a proposed Aegis Weapon System sale to Japan.
AEGIS Weapon Systems
Transmittal No: 19-08

WASHINGTON, January 29, 2019 – The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Japan of two (2) AEGIS Weapon Systems (AWS), two (2) Multi-Mission Signal Processors (MMSP) and two (2) Command and Control Processor (C2P) Refreshes and related equipment for an estimated cost of $2.150 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.

The Government of Japan has requested to buy two (2) AEGIS Weapon Systems (AWS), two (2) Multi-Mission Signal Processors (MMSP) and two (2) Command and Control Processor (C2P) Refreshes. Also included is radio navigation equipment, naval ordnance, two (2) Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) Systems, Global Command and Control System-Maritime (GCCS-M) hardware, and two (2) Inertial Navigation Systems (INS), U.S. Government and contractor representatives’ technical, engineering and logistics support services, installation support material, training, construction services for six (6) vertical launch system launcher module enclosures, communications equipment and associated spares, classified and unclassified publications and software, and other related elements of logistical and program support. The total estimated program cost is $2.150 billion.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of a major ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region. It is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Japan in developing and maintaining a strong and effective self-defense capability.

This proposed sale will provide the Government of Japan with an enhanced capability against increasingly sophisticated ballistic missile threats and create an expanded, layered defense of its homeland. Japan, which already has the AEGIS in its inventory, will have no difficulty absorbing this system into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support does not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The prime contractor for the Aegis Weapon System and Multi-Mission Signal Processors will be Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems, Washington, DC. The Command and Control Processor Refresh will be provided by General Dynamics, Falls Church, VA.

There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

Implementation of this proposed sale will require annual trips to Japan involving U.S. Government and contractor representatives for technical reviews, support, and oversight for approximately eight years.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

All questions regarding this proposed Foreign Military Sale should be directed to the State Department’s Bureau of Political Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs, [email protected].

  • The sad thing is we could have been here years ago if we had ramped up F-35 production at the rate of every other fighter we have ever built instead of dragging out low rate production for over a decade.

    • NavySubNuke

      It is amazing they can keep their sub tier suppliers in the fold. Especially for electronics, how we are even able to order the cpu’s for the various subsystems at such low rates given how fast the commercial market changes? Unless we already did a life of type buy for components like that.

      • sferrin

        And that’s part of the problem. They did that with the F-22 and, due to the speed at which computing advances, their system is archaic by commercial standards (though just about every other military aircraft is even worse so. . .).

    • sferrin

      The F-35 is just a tad more complicated than “every other fighter we have ever built”. Ask yourself why we didn’t crank out Tomcats as fast as P-51s.

    • Bubblehead

      That is because of concurrent buying policy, which they said would speed up development. They were building low rate production fighters before the final design had its flaws ironed out. That is also why all the early model F35’s have a ton of upgrades that need to be done to the tune of billions of dollars.

    • Duane

      Perhaps, but perhaps not. The aircraft only went IOC a few years ago (the B in 2015, the A in 2016, and the C slated to go IOC next month). The full combat capability (Block 3F) was delivered just 17 months ago. Just two years ago the A model cost in excess of $100M, last year went to $89M, and this year’s contract cost is expected to settle in near $80M. Operations costs took a plunge last year. So a lot of buyers, both the US and foreign, wanted to see how the aircraft performed, and wanted to see how fast production and operations costs were coming down before committing to large numbers in new contract buys.

      So the program has now finally hit its stride, and the buyers are lining up. Japan just signed up to buy another 105, both As and Bs (to go on their converted helicopter carrier), the Aussies are looking at adding the B to their buy of A models, Singapore just announced last week they want to buy about 67 F-35s … the beat goes on.

  • disqus_CbFK3MPhJu

    You do know this is a SINGLE engine truck, the F-22 is a twin engine bad boy,
    right?
    The F-14 was “retired” because an ally didn’t like us maintaining it while
    iran had them (and that same ally couldn’t buy F-22’s)

    • Duane

      The F-14 was retired because it was a 1960s design in a 1990s world.

    • E1 Kabong

      What was the reliability record for those TF30’s?

      The F-14 attrition rate?

      Clearly, you haven’t read up the USAF accident rates for those F100 & F110 powered aircraft and how few were engine related.

      So, you’re saying those Harriers, A-4’s, A-7’s, AMX’s, Super Etendards, Mirages, etc. were ALL FLAWED?

      Cute.

  • Ed L

    I curious about a comment about the F-22 and F-35 by one of the most famous US Airforce test pilot Quote “Waste of money.”. Unquote wonder why?

    • Graeme Rymill

      This appears to be the quote you refer to:
      “I was asked my opinion about the F-35. It’s a waste of money. Far too expensive. Give me an F-15 E – less expensive, will do the job.” It was a Twitter quote by Chuck Yeager in 2013. In 2013 the F-35 was too expensive. In 2019 not so much – in fact given its capabilities it is beginning to look like a bargain.

  • NavySubNuke

    I wonder if that price includes all the necessary mods to make the F-35A capable of employing a B61. Last I read the block that included that mod was going to deploy around then but I haven’t followed the program that closely and I haven’t had time to read the non-strategic nuke CRS report that was posted earlier.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    What’s NOT said here is that “until then, they will remain at just under a billion apiece!”

    • sferrin

      You forgot the /sarc tag.

    • Duane

      You didn’t read the post then.

  • PolicyWonk

    Lockheed Martin is committed to producing the F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter for $80 million each by next year…
    ====================================
    Great! Awesome!

    Is that fly-away cost? If not, what does $80M not include?

    I’ve seen the prices of F-35’s vary wildly, depending on whether they were referring to the air frame, whether an engine was/wasn’t included, etc., while the PEO was trying to make the F-35 project look like it was not as horribly managed as was being reported by OMB, DOT&E, etc.

    • Duane

      Fly away cost with engine.

      The difference in costs between the models is a reflection of different airframes, and in order numbers. The A model makes up the big majority of projected sales, so benefits from higher production volume. The B model, of course, is considerably more complex with its STOVL capability, and will be produced as the second most common version. The C model is more ruggedly built to withstand the loads imposed on carrier cats and traps, and also features a significantly larger, folding wing to provide better slow speed lift and handling characteristics, and will be produced in far smaller numbers than the A model, less than the B model too (there isn’t a very large market for CTOL fighters).

    • CharleyA

      The $400K helmet, which is categorized as Ancillary Equipment, thus not included in URF – and two are purchased per aircraft. The helmet is required to actually fly the aircraft.

      • Duane

        Flight helmets are never part of any aircraft’s delivery price, since each helmet is tied/fitted/used by a specific pilot. Ditto with flight suits, etc.

        Besides, similar flight helmets are what all attack aircraft will eventually use in the next decade. DOD is already adapting the F-35 helmet for use in the F-22, and Bell has already developed a version of that helmet for its attack version of the V-280 which like F-35, will also use a version of DAS.

        Besides no. 2 – the cost of the helmet is also likely to come down quite a bit with high volume production, just like the birds themselves have come down a very long ways in production cost since the first developmental airframes took flight.

    • Bubblehead

      Does not include F135 engine. Whats that cost? $10 mill?

      • Duane

        Nope – the quoted prices DO and always have included the engine costs.

      • PolicyWonk

        That depends: $13.06M (CTOL/CV) and $30.86M (STOVL/F-35B)

        • Duane

          Doesn’t depend. The quoted fly away costs include the engine, for all three of the models.

  • Duane

    It’s likely that we’ll end up producing about as many F-35s, in its three models, as we did of the F-16 (about 4,500 over 40 some years), but over only about half the timeframe. Foreign buyers are lining up to buy now.

    The AF just stated this week that they’d like to buy an updated F-15, a dozen of them at $100M apiece, considerably more costly than the F-35A (last year’s increment went for $89M). Seems really dumb, but almost certainly because acting SecDef Shanahan is a lifelong Boeing guy … just a few months ago, before he took over for Mattis, the SecAF stated unequivocally they were done with buying fourth gen fighters and wanted only to buy F-35s going forward.

    • Bubblehead

      There is a reason the US & Israel want to buy additional F15’s. Because the F35 is not a good air interdiction fighter: does not fly fast enough, does not fly far enough, and does not fly high enough. Those are important qualities in air interdiction (and Curtis did a pretty darn good job explaining why). It also satisfies the USAF needs for a air arsenal/weapon truck. The F35 & F15 would compliment each other very well.

      • Duane

        As I explained to Curtis, interdiction in the 21st century is totally unlike interdiction in the 20th century. Stealth, superior sensors, superior ECM, and superior computing capabilities are vastly more importance than top end speed. The range difference between F-15 and an F-35 A or C for interdiction (air to air) is nil – both do about 730 nm. Service ceiling doesn’t matter – the sensors and weapons on F-35 make that irrelevent.

        That is why the AF said they did not intend to buy ANY more fourth gens. They are getting bulldozed by the temporary SecDef is all.

        • The_Usual_Suspect61

          They said similar things when they decided not to put a gun on the F-4. History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.

          • Duane

            Nice canard .. but irrelevent.

            So effectively then there was no difference between a F-4F Wildcat and a F-4 Phantom – identical capabilities, huh? Might as well stuck with the Wildcats, I’m sure they’d stack up really well today against Su-35s and J-20s.

          • Investing in non-stealth aircraft in 2019 is the same as investing in non-missile aircraft in 1969, or non-jet aircraft in 1949 or biplanes in 1939 – it may save some money and be sort of workable in the short term but it’s setting you up for failure in the long term. Especially now that aircraft are expected to stick around for 40+ years. Who wants to be flying a warmed over 1970’s design in 2060?

      • E1 Kabong

        “There is a reason the US & Israel want to buy additional F15’s.”?

        Cite that official statement the USAF is buying more F-15’s.

        • Ziv Bnd

          Bloomberg Gov has an article out that claims the Air Force is going to ask congress to fund 12 new F-15X at a cost of $1.2Bn. They also say Shanahan (ex-Boeing exec) has recused himself publicly from the decision but is pushing for it behind the scenes.

          I think that each F-35 wing having a handful of F-15X to use as gun trucks would be useful. But is it worth $100Mn (for starters) when there is so little money to go around? And I doubt that the Air Force want to field wings with mixed aircraft types, so I don’t know. If the F-15X is deployed by the squadron, you would need to buy way too many of them.

          • The F-35 can actually carry two more A2A missiles than the F-15X can since it has two additional hardpoints for Sidewinder.

          • Ziv Bnd

            I was under the impression that the F-15X would be able to carry 12 AMRAAMs, and then I looked it up and now they seem to be claiming 16, even more than the F-15QA. Not sure what number is right.

            I thought that the X was intended to have the ability to work as a missile truck for the F-35, allowing the F-35 to sneak in nearer the enemy aircraft and lock onto them using the EOTS/sensor array but using the F-15X’s missiles so the F-35 could remain stealthy and keep their own AMRAAMs for later.
            Even in the never before tested Beast Mode, the F-35 would carry just 14 AMRAAMs and 2 AIM-9’s.
            But as soon as an F-35 uses external hardware/armaments, they are no longer a stealth aircraft.
            But there have been so many proposed variants of the F-15 that I could easily be wrong.

          • The F-15 has 4 fuselage hardpoints for 1 missile each and 4 underwing hardpoints that can accomodate dual ejector racks for a total of 12 missiles. There is some talk about a quad ejector rack for the wing hardpoints, which would theoretically allow for 20 missiles (although 16 is more likely since the F-15 almost always carries dual racks and external fuel tanks on the innermost hardpoints).

            The F-35 has 4 internal missiles, 4 underwing hardpoints for dual racks, and 2 underwing hardpoints for single Sidewinders for a total of 14 missiles. If the quad racks are developed then the F-35 could almost certainly use them as well and there is talk of expanding the internal bays to 6 missiles, which would theoretically allow for 24 missiles. Further, an F-35 with external weapons will still be stealthier than an F-15 in any configuration.

            However, all of this is mostly ridiculous since a fighter would basically never have a chance to fire them all, carrying so many weapons would impose serious drag and maneuverability limits, and we don’t actually have enough missiles to load our fighters that heavily in the first place.

            The “missile truck” idea is nothing but trying to find some useful role for 4th gen planes and is of questionable utility. Firing missiles at extreme range would seriously reduce effectiveness and the 4th gen fighters would still be in range of enemy sensors and weapons.

          • USNVO

            There have been numerous statements saying the USAF is going to buy new F-15s and F-16s, all have turned out to be false. Following the latest claim, the USAF publicly stated they are not buying any additional F-15s unless they get more funds (basically only if Congress mandates they buy them and gives them additional funds over and above what they ask for and provide unfunded requests for).

          • Ziv Bnd

            That appears to be exactly what Bloomberg is claiming that the Air Force is planning to do. Bloomberg claims that the Air Force will ask Congress for a supplemental to fund the purchase.
            It sounds unlikely to happen but with congress you never know.

          • USNVO

            The track record of such statements has been pretty abysmal but you never know. Really, what good would just 12 aircraft be? The logistics will torpodo it. They would need to by at least a few hundred. Just don’t see that happening.

          • E1 Kabong

            “Claims”. “Ask”.

            Hilarious!

            “I think that each F-35 wing having a handful of F-15X to use as gun trucks would be useful.”?

            The first two words, are clearly fiction.

            Want to chat about the obvious?

            Wing Maintenance? Wing Logistics? Wing Training?

  • old guy

    I guess that will make them as inexpensive as that critical turkey, the great V22.

  • Secundius

    2023! In 2019 Dollars or 2023 Dollars…

    • CharleyA

      Probably Base Year $, which is currently stated in 2012 dollars. In current year $, a F-35C is $120M flyaway according to the FY19 budget, and a F-35B purchased in FY19 s $118M flyaway according to the same budget. The cost for the F-35C drops to $112M in FY20, but then starts to climb, and the F-35B is cheapest this year, thus starts climbing in FY20. The new budget should be out in a few weeks, pending the effects of the recent (and maybe future) “shutdown.”

      • Duane

        No – it will be dollars in effect at the time of sale, just like all other contract orders for F-35s. Nobody contracts in “baseline year” dollars. That is just a mechanism used to define forward looking programmatic estimates for development of new products. F-35 is far beyond that point.

        For multi-year contract orders, there will be an allowance for out year inflation, just as in all multi-year order contracts. Materials and labor constantly escalate due to inflation. But if 2023 is the base year, and the contract price is $80M (or some number less than that), that is for delivery of aircraft in that fiscal year at that price. And then any following years, the government will probably use an allowance for inflation.

        • CharleyA

          Point of fact – when Bogdan was first talking about $80M URF, he was stating it in BY$ – do the research. Who knows what flavor of dollar Hewson is talking about.

          • Duane

            PEOs talk about baseline budgets because that is what PEOs manage. The actual procurement of aircraft under annual or multi-year contracts is totally unrelated to program budgeting talk.

      • Secundius

        I’ll believe when I actually see it happen, which I suspect it won’t…

  • Don Bacon

    “Lockheed says……..” . .so what.
    There has never been an audit of F-35 production costs by the Defense Audit Agency, and there never will be apparently. The only indication indication of true F-35 cost is FMS where the acquisition cost to buyers, including initial spares, training devices etc. approaches $200 million.

    • afriendoftheauthor

      My concern exactly, Don. This reporter doesn’t go beyond Lockheed Martin’s assertions/spin. He should have questioned the premise or definition of “unit cost.”

      • Duane

        Unit cost and prices are well established by the program office and by Congress, it is not just LM’s word involved. They happen to be interviewing an LM guy for this post, but the F-35 program is by far the most heavily scrutinized military procurement program in US history.

    • Duane

      Not true. All prime contractors doing work for DOD are subjected to near continuous DCAA audit, and in addition to that, the DOD IG also overlays its own audits of the F-35 program.

    • E1 Kabong

      “Don Bacon says………”

      So what?

  • Curtis Conway

    If the F-35A was a Mach II+ fighter I would be all for “Katie, bar the door and lets buy a whole grunch of F-35As”. However, the F-35A is not a good F-15C Interceptor replacement, and we do not, and will NEVER HAVE enough F-22s to replace the F-15C Interceptors, or F-15Es so configured. The USAF is going to have to buy some F-15X Interceptors that will be able to do a whole lot more, and most likely have a configuration informed by F-35 Combat System success (i.e., DAS, data-link, ESM, avionics suite, new engine, etc.).

    • Duane

      RF waves, computer brains, and trons are way faster than Mach 2, and so are the AIM-120Ds. Mach 2 fighters like the F-14 never actually traveled anywhere at Mach 2 – at least, if they were or are carrying a decent fuel and weaps load. The advertised top end speed for F-14 was bare of all weaps and minimal fuel load.

    • Ziv Bnd

      Curtis, how fast are the SU-35 and the F-15C with a full air to air load out and around half their fuel capacity? Definitely not Mach 2+, and I doubt they are much faster than the Mach 1.6 the F-35 is capable of fully loaded either air to ground or air to air.
      The only fighter that is going to be cruising around at Mach 1+ much of the time is the F-22 because they can do it without afterburner and are able to do so burning approximately 20% more fuel than they would at Mach 0.9.

      • Curtis Conway

        Should have built more F-22s HUHH?! Interceptors are interceptors. An F-15C with fuselage AIM-120s and a centerline tank, and back in the day at Kef Fast Packs, intercepted Bear Deltas all the time. Today we have supersonic bombers (Tu-22/Tu-160) to worry about. Probably want to hit them as far out as possible. We in the Navy called it ‘Killing the Archer instead of intercepting the Arrows’, but you can do anything you want I suppose.

        • Ziv Bnd

          Yeah, I think anyone not involved in the decision process would have liked more F-22’s. Even 30 more would have made a big difference. But that horse is out of the barn. The F-35 was never intended to be an interceptor, it is primarily air to ground with some air to air capability. And given the EOTS and the AIM-120, it may end up being a pretty fair air to air fighter. But it will never box at the F-22’s weight.

          • Duane

            F-35 is and always was intended to be a multi-role attack aircraft including interceptor role. AF says it’s their best air to air fighter ever, better than F-15 and F-22 (by virtue of its stealth, its vastly superior sensors, it’s one of a kind computing capability including mission data files, and its superior built in ECM capabilities).

            That’s how it gets 24:1 kill ratio against ALL fourth gen fighters … it is also why the AF has taken to pairing up F-22s with F-35s on multi-ship missions – not for the F-22 to protect the F-35, but for the F-35 to protect the F-22.

          • Ziv Bnd

            The F35 as multi role aircraft, very much yes.
            As an interceptor, not so much.
            Your faith in both the LCS and the F35 as an interceptor is refreshing.
            The F35 sensor suite is phenomenal, better than that of the F22, but the F22 is still the preeminent interceptor/air to air fighter in the world.

          • Duane

            Not according to the Air Force. They fly the F-22, and they say the F-35 is the best air to air fighter they fly.

          • Ziv Bnd

            Out of curiousity, do you have a link for that?

            That sounds really unlikely. I can’t see an Air Force officer of any stature making that claim.

            I mean, other than an F-35 procurement officer or an F-35 pilot, of course. 😉

          • Duane

            That statement came when SecAF announced late last year that the AF would NOT be buying any more fourth gen fighters. That was back when the man from Boeing and a vociferous critic of F-35 was just the no. 2 in the Pentagon.

          • Ziv Bnd

            Interesting. I have seen Sec. Wilson say a lot of stuff about Gen 5 vs. Gen 4 aircraft, and I have seen quotes about re-starting the F-22 production being a bad idea due to cost, but I have never seen her critical of the F-22’s capabilities and I have never her seen her compare the air to air capabilities of the F-22 vs. the F-35.

            She does compare Gen 5 aircraft to Gen 4 and note the superiority of the Gen 5 frequently. Could you have conflated two different comparisons or attributed the statement to the wrong person? It just seems unlikely that anyone with any knowledge of the aircraft would say that the F-35 is a better air to air platform than the F-22. The only reason I could see for her to make that statement would be to try to gain support for a larger block buy of F-35’s going forward, maybe. I could see an F-35 procurement officer saying it, or even an F-35 pilot, but not the Sec Air Force.

          • Duane

            SecAF Wilson does not bad mouth the F-22, but she and her generals are clear that the F-35 is the best fighter aircraft they have, for the obvious reasons that the F-35 has far superior sensors, far superior ECM, far superior onboard computing … all in relation to that on the F-22 … and F-35 has sensor fusion and mission data files that the F-22 does not have at all.

            The F-22 is really a fourth and a half gen aircraft – it has stealth, but that’s its sole advantage over the fourth gens. The F-35 is the first true fifth gen attack fighter, going way beyond mere stealth.

          • E1 Kabong

            And they’re FAR superior to any Russian/Chinese kit.

          • E1 Kabong

            When was the last time western fighters got into a classic dogfight?

            When have they lost?

          • Ziv Bnd

            The US hasn’t fought a peer in air to air since the Vietnam War when some of the early air battles were against Russian pilots. We didnt do well.
            Will long range AMRAAMs mean the end of dogfighting? Maybe, but it is better to prepare for the enemy to do something we dont expect or cant counter at first. The enemy gets a vote.
            And we dont want to be guilty of preparing for the last war and get our a%%es handed to us in the next.

          • Secundius

            Libyan MiG-23’s in 1989…

          • Ziv Bnd

            “peer”
            😉

          • Secundius

            About as close to “Peer” as the USAF and/or USN is likely to meet. Other than those that Ran Away (i.e. Iraqi AF)…

          • Ziv Bnd

            Russia and China are about the only peers we are at all likely to engage, and hopefully that won’t happen. Accidents do happen, though, and I could see the US and China stumbling into a confrontation fairly easily. Especially if the Chinese economy crashes and they feel that they are losing ground and face.

          • Secundius

            There was also USN F-18E pilot LCmdr. Mike “Mob” Tremel who shot down an Syrian Su-22 in June 2017…

          • Ziv Bnd

            “peer” vs. “Syrian SU-22”
            That is the double whammy of discordance! 😉
            Putting a Syrian pilot up against an American pilot is asking a lot of the Syrian. Doing so when the Syrian is flying a pig (for air to air) like the SU-22 adds insult to injury. It sounds like the Syrian pilot may have survived the encounter by ejecting in time. His government owes him a nice pension and should allow him to start enjoying it immediately.

          • Secundius

            Always assuming the Syrian Su-22 pilot wasn’t a “Honcho”, flying the plane…

          • E1 Kabong

            What “peers”?

            The closest was your Ruskie pals in Korea.

            How’d that work out?

          • E1 Kabong

            Who’s a “peer” to Western fighter pilots?

            🙂

          • E1 Kabong

            Which Russian pilots fought in Vietnam?

            Last I checked, the VNAF didn’t do well in air combat….

            Let’s compare the training Western pilots receive, vs Russian/Chinese ones, shall we?

            They don’t get to train against actual F-15’s or F-16’s, do they?

          • Duane

            Air to air is all about stealth, sensors, computers, ECM, weapons, and tactics. F-35 can defeat a F-22, though of course they’ll never fight each other. Vastly better sensors, vastly better computers, vastly better ECM. Which is why the AF is now teaming up F-22 with F-35s in mixed flights – so that the F-35s can protect the F-22s.

        • E1 Kabong

          F-15’s were NOT “interceptors”.

          “Interceptors” haven’t been built since the F-106 days.

          • Curtis Conway

            Yeah, I know. Kinda said that above. HOWEVER, the Mission Did Not Go Away! If you think not, we will make SURE we intercept the enemy aircraft over YOUR city next time.
            Single dimensional minds just drive me crazy because that is the only way they can think.
            One cannot eliminate a mission from the mission set . . . to save money . . . just because we have convinced yourselves that we no longer need to do that mission.
            I think I have an F-106 intercept or two in my logbook. I have many F-14 intercepts in my logbook. If they bring on another Interceptor I’ll come out of retirement to make another INTERCEPT for my logbook.

          • E1 Kabong

            MULTI-role fighters…

            Fighter….bomber…interceptor…

            Even the F-14 wasn’t an interceptor.
            It was a “fleet defence fighter” if one wants to be pedantic.

        • History repeats itself – the F-15 was very specifically designed to incorporate the capabilities pilots actually used rather than ones that looked good on paper. Part of that was a significant speed reduction (the first F-15 plans called for close to Mach 3). Now the F-35 benefits from 40 years of operating F-15’s and it was realized that a bit more speed can be traded off with no real reduction in capability.

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      The F-22 isn’t an interceptor either to be fair.

      • Curtis Conway

        Other than an F-15, the F-22s are our last Mach II+ capable aircraft. Interceptors . . . INTERCEPT! Don’t have single mission aircraft anymore . . . so the adversary gets to get closer to our shores before we . . . ‘intercept’ . . . in the future. Is that equation going the wrong way . . . closer and all?

        • Duane

          F-35 has vastly better sensors than either F-15 or F-22. It can see the attacker, and classify it, and devise appropriate countermeasures long before either the F-15 or F-22 can see them, and it can’t be seen by the attackers or their ground radars.

          • Bubblehead

            The F15X will have the most powerful AESA ever put on a fighter. Its IRST21 blk2 is the longest range IRST in the world. Certainly far superior to the outdated F35 IRST which, last I read isn’t a genuine IRST because it requires the radar to cue it (another LM lie). And the EPAWSS ECM is as good as anything in the world. And no Duane the F35 range is nowhere near an F15 with conformal fuel tanks. Maybe you missed the memo.

            There is a difference between Interdiction & multirole. The F35 is primarily designed for land attack while being able to defend itself against anything. But that doesn’t make it a great interdiction fighter. Speed does matter as Curtis pointed out. The faster you can intercept an incoming bomber the better. If you are attempting to intercept something faster than you, well that can be a problem. I guess it is just a little over your head…

            The Israeli’s are also choosing to buy F15’s over additional F35’s. I suppose you are going to blame this on the Sec Defense also? The F35 & F15 compliment each other really well. The F15 being the missile truck, flying high and fast and the F35 using its sensors to find targets for the F15. Shoot the F35 can only carry four of those AMRAAM D’s you brag about internally. And if you put those D’s on the wings, well then you are no different than the unstealthy F15. There are still many countries lining up for F15’s, and there is a reason for it. The latest F15’s are still a very deadly adversary.

          • Duane

            F15 doesn’t have DAS. Doesn’t have a computer remotely as powerful as the F-35. Doesn’t have mission data files. Doesn’t have sensor fusion. Doesn’t have the world’s finest ECM capability on any fighter aircraft.

            The F-15X is simply a sop to the temporary SecDef. Everybody knows that.

            The F-35 is designed primarily to be multi-role. It is a superior air to air fighter compared to any and all other fighter aircraft including the F-15X. The Air Force’s own spokesman yesterday stated unequivocally that the F-15X cannot hold a candle to to the F-35.

          • E1 Kabong

            1960’s era design….

          • Duane

            Interceptor or interdiction, it is merely air to air combat against attacking aircraft, be they heavy bombers or small attack aircraft or fighters.

            The term “interceptor” was invented in the 1950s when the principal nuclear threat to the USA was Soviet bombers (small, medium, or large) flying over the polar area to air drop bombs on the USA. That mission effectively went away by the late 1960s, when ICBMs and air-dropped long range cruise missiles became the principal nuke delivery vehicles … which is why we and everybody else stopped building “interceptors” decades ago.

            It only takes one AIM-120D to down the enemy. Plus F-35 also carries two AIM-9X on the wingtips, and many more on the external pylons if acting as an arsenal aircraft, which of course they are fully capable of doing. And a mod is being developed to increase the internal bay load up to 6 AIM-120s.

            What the Israelis are buying is immaterial. They buy lots of stuff we don’t buy. And they are still buying F-35s.

          • A minor point of correction – the interceptor mission never actually went away. What happened was the DoD said “we can’t stop the ICBM’s that make up the majority of the Soviet arsenal, so why bother funding interceptors for their bombers.” If BMD is ever funded properly, that logic will no longer apply and interceptors will be needed again.

          • Duane

            If the Soviets ever develop the equivalent of our B-21 (which seems unlikely any time soon, if ever), interceptors could be necessary again, but maybe not. Ground based SAMs with satellite based sensors would eliminate any need for an interceptor aircraft.

          • Interceptors can shoot down cruise missiles as well. SAM’s, while a vital component of any system, are far less flexible and much shorter ranged than aircraft.

        • E1 Kabong

          What EXACTLY needs……….intercepting?

          We have more capable……..radars to detect targets……..farther out…….

          • This is the key question. What exactly do our interceptors need to intercept? Because looking at the threat, all I’m seeing is civilian aircraft and subsonic Russian cruise missiles – neither of which requires a force of dedicated Mach 2+ interceptors.

          • E1 Kabong

            Agreed.

            Those AIM-120’s easily deal with cruise missiles.

            With current data-linked, networked forces, and modern radars, fighters would be in place long before anything was close to North America.

    • E1 Kabong

      Was the F-15C a great fighter-bomber?

      Is the F-15 stealthy and able to survive in a modern IADS environment?

      The USAF will NOT be wasting money on 60’s era designs.

      • Curtis Conway

        12MAY18 U.S. Jets Intercept Russian Bombers Off the Coast of Alaska

        Look it up. This incident has happened at an ever increasing rate over the last two years+. On one occasion there were bombers, tankers, and long range fighters. They do not penetrate the ADIZ but they fly right up to it, and we intercept them BEFORE they cross the ADIZ. That is USNORTHCOM and NORAD’s job.

        • E1 Kabong

          So?

          Look up what the JASDF has been dealing with annually.

          ” They do not penetrate the ADIZ but they fly right up to it, and we intercept them BEFORE they cross the ADIZ. That is USNORTHCOM and NORAD’s job.”?

          So what, Capt.Obvious?

      • Curtis Conway

        Got you on that one. The F-15SE or F-15X are NOT ’60’s technology. Educate one’s self. Also, the Interceptor mission set is typically taking place over an OCEAN, so your IADS environment is not applicable, unless it’s over the Arctic waters, and those Russian Ice-hardened ships are present.

  • Leroy

    Life-spiral! : )

    • Ziv Bnd

      Success begets further success…
      It is going to be interesting to see what LM can do to improve range and acceleration with the new ADVENT engines that are supposed to be out in a handful of years.
      And as the price comes down close to that of an F-16V, the countries that are sitting on the fence are likely to buy in. It might be in the best interests of the US to throttle its purchases over the next 5 or 6 years to allow German, Switzerland and Finland (and maybe Canada will come back) so that we buy fewer of the F-35A’s and F-35C’s with the F-135 engine and buy more at a cheaper price with the ADVENT engine. We can nurse our F-16’s, F-18’s and F-15’s for a couple more years.

  • afriendoftheauthor

    This reporter seems to accept Lockheed Martin’s claims without question. There should have been some additional reporting on whether an appropriate “unit cost,” as some previous reports have argued, should be calculated as follows: TOTAL PROGRAM COST divided by NUMBER OF AIRCRAFT DELIVERED. That would tell you how much each plane costs, and the number is far north of the numbers Lockheed Martin touts for political reasons.

    • Duane

      All of that is well established and made public and updated at least annually by the program office and is monitored excrutiatingly heavily by Congress, the DOD Inspector General, and by the Defense Contract Auditing Agency (DCAA) which runs a continuous audit on the program and the prime contractor.

    • E1 Kabong

      You clearly have no idea how to calculate costs.

      What’s your plan for calculating future upgrades?

      Customer-specific modifications and additions?

  • Charles Pierce

    and if you believe that statement I have some land for sale in Florida, please contact and we will make arrangement to see the land at low tide.

    • E1 Kabong

      And if you had ANY facts to disprove it, instead of confirming your anti-F-35 troll status, now would be the time to back your claim up.

      • Charles Pierce

        The fact that it came form the Pentagon nothing else is needed. I can count as well as anyone and when the number do not add up, do not believe them. 50 years experience in dealing with the Pentagon brass.

        • E1 Kabong

          Refute it, or shoo.

  • des111168

    LOL, no. The expensive pig will continue to be an expensive pig. We’ve been promised these dramatic cost drops for years, and they never materialize. And $80 million is still too much for a fighter, something you’re supposed to be able to buy in large quantities.

    When a Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren is in the White House (and, shudder, yeah, but it’s going to happen), this is going to be one of the first things on the chopping block. I think there’s a pretty good chance production ends at 600+ planes. F-111 redux. End production early, declare victory, and move on to the next white elephant that contractors promise (“This time! We pinky promise!”) will be affordable and on schedule. Congress will believe THAT crock too.