Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pentagon ups #F35 costs again

From one of the leading aviation publications in the U.S., Aviation Week, the latest on the F-35's increasing costs sees Canada in its headline: "Canada Concerned As F-35 Cost Estimate Rises." The article's main point is to highlight still more increasing costs of the F-35 program as announced by the Pentagon:
In what is becoming an annual event, the Pentagon has again revised the estimated cost of developing, buying and operating the Lockheed Martin F-35. In this latest pricing increase, the Defense Department estimates the program will total $124.2 billion (9%) more than the $1.385 trillion forecast only a year ago through a projected 55-year fleet life.
You know, at least the Americans are up front about costs for all to see no matter how bad this program's escalation gets. Their media and citizens wouldn't stand for it if they weren't. Do we trust in the Department of Defence or our government to be so forthcoming up here? No, we certainly don't, not in the wake of the Auditor General's report.

What else do we learn from Aviation Week? Costs are increasing because operating and fuel costs are being included in the total cost estimates:
The preponderance of the cost increase—$107.9 billion—falls into the “operating and support cost” account, which will pay for flying hours and spares once the F-35 enters service. This estimate was derived from the Pentagon’s Capability Assessment and Program Evaluation office and is 6% higher than the F-35 Joint Program Office’s. Fuel costs consume about 14% of the projected operating and support cost increase.
The Americans include those costs, as do we. When we follow the rules, that is.

And we best take note of this, "Full-rate production is slipping to fiscal 2019...," given that the CF-18s are gettin' near retirement age by that date. Underscoring the foolhardiness of the Harper government's insistence on throwing in solely to this risky F-35 scheme.