Marine Corps's F-35B fighter ready for combat

The most expensive weapons system ever procured by the Pentagon is finally ready for deployment.

The Marine Corps version of the Joint Strike Force Fighter, the F-35B, was declared fit for combat after nearly 13 years of delays, cost overruns, and design flaws.

The F-35 is not only the most expensive weapons program in Pentagon history, but its price-per-unit cost averages a staggering $178 million – more than twice the unit cost of the F-18.

There is no doubt the F-35 is a marvelous machine.  But at $400 billion through 2019, is it worth it?

Washington Post:

“Do you believe the nation can afford to procure these aircraft at a cost of $12 [billion] to $15 [billion] per year for nearly the next 20 years for an aircraft design that will be 30 years old at the completion of the program procurement phase?” they asked.

They also pointed out that the aircraft is still under development and that full production is not scheduled until 2019, 17 years after the program’s inception. And they wondered whether the Pentagon really need 2,443 of the planes “in light of countervailing pressure to reduce force structure to conserve resources.”

Dunford replied that the F-35 “is a vital component of our effort to ensure the Joint Force maintains dominance in the air.” And he said that there will be updates to the plane over its life that will ensure it “maintains a tactical advantage.”

But he also said that the Pentagon is “analyzing” whether the 2,443 planes it plans to buy “is the correct number.”

That set off waves of concern, because the more planes the Pentagon buys, the less expensive they are. The Pentagon had dropped the number from its initial goal of 2,852. Another decrease could not only lead to an increase in price but spook allies, such as Canada, which are weighing whether to buy the aircraft, analysts said.

“Like all these major weapons systems sometimes, you just want to see them walk in a straight line and not fall off the curb,” said Byron Callan, a director of Capital Alpha Partners. “Hitting this milestone, which they’ve been talking about for months, if not years, is a positive step. But is it going to fundamentally alter the perceptions of the program? I’d say no.”

One of the F-35's leading critics, John McCain, said he was “concerned about the capability and reliability of this aircraft,” and vowed to make sure the program continues to improve.

Each F-35C bought by the Navy will cost $338 million.  The Air Force version – the F-35A – will set us back $148 million.  The fact is, designers loaded the plane up with so many bells and whistles that constant tweaking was necessary to get everything to work properly.  It appears they have most of the problems ironed out, although there are still concerns about safety.

All together, adding up development and procurement costs, as well as  matntenance, the F-35 will cost the American taxpayer nearly a trillion and a half dollars.  It will be interesting to see how it performs in combat to see if such a massive cost is justified.

The most expensive weapons system ever procured by the Pentagon is finally ready for deployment.

The Marine Corps version of the Joint Strike Force Fighter, the F-35B, was declared fit for combat after nearly 13 years of delays, cost overruns, and design flaws.

The F-35 is not only the most expensive weapons program in Pentagon history, but its price-per-unit cost averages a staggering $178 million – more than twice the unit cost of the F-18.

There is no doubt the F-35 is a marvelous machine.  But at $400 billion through 2019, is it worth it?

Washington Post:

“Do you believe the nation can afford to procure these aircraft at a cost of $12 [billion] to $15 [billion] per year for nearly the next 20 years for an aircraft design that will be 30 years old at the completion of the program procurement phase?” they asked.

They also pointed out that the aircraft is still under development and that full production is not scheduled until 2019, 17 years after the program’s inception. And they wondered whether the Pentagon really need 2,443 of the planes “in light of countervailing pressure to reduce force structure to conserve resources.”

Dunford replied that the F-35 “is a vital component of our effort to ensure the Joint Force maintains dominance in the air.” And he said that there will be updates to the plane over its life that will ensure it “maintains a tactical advantage.”

But he also said that the Pentagon is “analyzing” whether the 2,443 planes it plans to buy “is the correct number.”

That set off waves of concern, because the more planes the Pentagon buys, the less expensive they are. The Pentagon had dropped the number from its initial goal of 2,852. Another decrease could not only lead to an increase in price but spook allies, such as Canada, which are weighing whether to buy the aircraft, analysts said.

“Like all these major weapons systems sometimes, you just want to see them walk in a straight line and not fall off the curb,” said Byron Callan, a director of Capital Alpha Partners. “Hitting this milestone, which they’ve been talking about for months, if not years, is a positive step. But is it going to fundamentally alter the perceptions of the program? I’d say no.”

One of the F-35's leading critics, John McCain, said he was “concerned about the capability and reliability of this aircraft,” and vowed to make sure the program continues to improve.

Each F-35C bought by the Navy will cost $338 million.  The Air Force version – the F-35A – will set us back $148 million.  The fact is, designers loaded the plane up with so many bells and whistles that constant tweaking was necessary to get everything to work properly.  It appears they have most of the problems ironed out, although there are still concerns about safety.

All together, adding up development and procurement costs, as well as  matntenance, the F-35 will cost the American taxpayer nearly a trillion and a half dollars.  It will be interesting to see how it performs in combat to see if such a massive cost is justified.