How much does the F-35 Cost?
Producing, Operating and Supporting a 5th Generation Fighter
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.
The most recent LRIP 10 contract reflects an average airframe unit cost approximately 8 percent lower than the LRIP 9 contract signed in 2016 and an approximate 62 percent reduction since LRIP 1. LRIP 10 Aircraft Costs (including jet, engine and fee) are:
- 76 F-35As CTOL - $94.6 million (7.3% reduction from Lot 9)
- 12 F-35Bs STOVL - $122.8 million (6.7% reduction from Lot 9)
- 2 F-35Cs CV - $121.8 million (7.9% reduction from Lot 9)
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. Also in 2016, it announced the Sustainment Cost Reduction Initiative to save an additional $1 billion through 2022. 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.
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.