GAO Report: Massive Sustainment Costs Creating F-35 Affordability Issues
Posted on April 27, 2021 by John M. Doyle, Seapower Correspondent
ARLINGTON, Va. — Sustaining the troubled Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II strike fighter over its expected 66-year service life will cost more than the total purchase price of thousands of the aircraft, the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons platform, a government watchdog told lawmakers.
The Defense Department plans to acquire nearly 2,500 F-35 aircraft for about $400 billion over the next five decades for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. However, the latest Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the nation’s biggest weapons program indicates the services will incur an additional $1.3 trillion in sustainment costs for maintenance, repairs and technology upgrades over that same period.
That raises the issue of the services’ affordability targets, “how much the Air Force, the Navy and Marine Corps can afford to spend to sustain the F-35,” GAO’s Diana Maurer, director of military structure and operational issues, told a joint hearing by two subcommittees of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) April 22. Originally estimated at $1.11 trillion in 2012, sustainment costs for the Fifth Generation fighter have grown to $1.27 trillion, despite efforts to reduce costs.https://seapowermagazine.org/gao-report-massive-sustainment-costs-creating-f-35-affordability-issues/