May 06, 2010 17:51 UTC
The Battle over the F-35 fighter‘s costs is quickly becoming a strategic issue for Lockheed Martin. The firm is worried that the rising Pentagon cost estimates per fighter will spook both domestic and foreign buyers, right in the crucial period between FY 2010-2015, when it is supposed to move to full-rate production. If that happens, it could create a vicious spiral of slower cost drop-offs, followed by more cutbacks, followed by rising costs and delays. On the other hand, if concerns are allayed, and then the pessimistic estimates turn out to be right, a number of countries and governments will find the future of their air forces hung out to dry, via unaffordable contracts. The problem is, Lockheed Martin and the US government disagree sharply over what the F-35’s cost is. That is why so much is riding on who is eventually right, and on who is perceived to be right.
Bill Sweetman is arguably aviation’s most respected journalist. “JSF – Talking Real Money” helps explain why, as it dissects the 2 colliding viewpoints of the fighter’s future costs. Here’s the core of the debate…
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