The Pentagon’s Selected Acquisition Report on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was delivered to Congress yesterday, projecting a $17 billion hit on initial estimates. Last year the total production and acquisition costs of the programme increased 4.3% to $396 billion according to the report.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta underlined his commitment to the programme regardless of the cost implications.
“As part of the defence strategy that the United States went through and has put in place, we have made very clear that we are 100% committed to the development of the F-35,” he said. “It’s a fifth-generation fighter, [and] we absolutely need it for the future.”
During the committee hearing Frank Kendall III, acting Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, insisted the Pentagon is keeping a close eye on spiralling costs and is aiming to check these as far as possible.
“We are doing everything we can to drive down the cost of the Joint Strike Fighter … We are attacking the production costs by putting strong incentives on the contractor to control costs, to get the changes that have to be made cut in quickly.”
Japan agreed to buy 42 of the fifth generation fighters earlier this year but has since thrown doubt on the deal saying that any further cost increases will force it to pull out. Other allied countries such as the UK are also weighing up options, with Prime Minister David Cameron yet to decide on which F-35 variant, and how many of them, to buy.
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