Soaring F-35 Costs Show Signs of Descent
Policy + Politics

Soaring F-35 Costs Show Signs of Descent

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

What goes up, must come down. Or at least that’s what the Pentagon is predicting with the cost of its new F-35 fighter jets.

After an initial per-plane estimate of $69 million ballooned to about $137 million, a Defense Department official now says the unit cost of a new version used by the Air Force will drop significantly in the next five years.

Related: DOD Is Stuck with a Flawed $1.5 Trillion Fighter Jet

Assistant Air Force Secretary William LaPlante told Reuters that each F-35A will cost about $85 million by 2018 or 2019, and perhaps even less in following years. That compares with the current estimate of $112 million. He didn’t offer specifics on how the savings would be achieved.

Later this month the Defense Department is expected to submit a comprehensive report to Congress offering new estimates for the $391.2 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons system. Costs dropped by about $11.5 billion last year, according to the Government Accountability Office.

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