How much does the F-35 Cost?

Producing, Operating and Supporting a 5th Generation Fighter

Production Costs

The F-35 Lightning II was designed to be an affordable 5th Generation fighter, taking advantage of economies of scale and commonalities between the three variants. Since the first F-35 was built production costs have dropped approximately 60 percent.

For the eleventh consecutive year, the cost of an F-35A was lowered. The F-35A unit price including aircraft, engine and fee, is $89.2 million. This represents a 5.4 percent reduction from the $94.3 million it cost for an F-35A in Low-Rate Initial Production Lot 10 (LRIP 10), and also puts the F-35A at equal to or less than the price of legacy aircraft. In LRIP 11, the F-35B unit cost was lowered to $115.5 million. This represents a 5.7 percent reduction from the $122.4 million it cost for the short-takeoff and landing variant in LRIP 10. The F-35C unit cost was lowered to $107.7 million. This represents an 11.1 percent reduction from the $121.2 million it cost for the carrier variant in LRIP 10.

LRIP 11 Aircraft Costs (including jet, engine and fee) are:

  • 102 F-35As CTOL - $89.2 million (5.4% reduction from Lot 10)
  • 25 F-35Bs STOVL - $115.5 million (5.7% reduction from Lot 10)
  • 14 F-35Cs CV - $107.7 million (11.1% reduction from Lot 10)

The U.S. Government, Lockheed Martin and the F-35 industrial team continue to collaborate to further reduce F-35 costs for future production lots.

In 2014, the DoD announced an industry-led effort called “Blueprint for Affordability” and expanded the effort in 2016 from a $1.8 billion to a $4 billion savings initiative.  The goal of these programs is to drive the cost of an F-35A to less than $85 million in 2019, where it will be equivalent to, or less, than any 4th-generation fighter.

Concurrency

The F-35 program includes an overlap of flight test and initial production known as concurrency. Concurrency allows for a steady production and supply chain pace and faster delivery of the F-35 to the warfighter.

Because of concurrency, early production aircraft require some retrofits to implement changes based on flight test discoveries. As the flight test program matures, the risk of new discoveries declines. As risk declines, fewer retrofits are required in later production lots. In June 2013, Department of Defense concurrency cost estimates dropped by $500 million for the first five production lots due to more accurate estimating methods and proactive efforts to make updates more efficient.

Lockheed Martin and the F-35 Joint Program Office share concurrency costs through the first four production lots. Beginning with Low Rate Initial Production Lot 5, Lockheed Martin took on a greater share of known concurrency costs.