Monday, June 25, 2012

JSF Air Wing Cost

I just posted some program costs but it's worth pointing out the JSF costs in a bit more detail.  The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF or F-35) procurement is currently set for 2,457 aircraft.  Using the cost of $161M per aircraft, that's a total program cost of $395 billion !  Yikes!

The new LHA-6 that was discussed in a previous post is designed for an air wing of 20 JSF as one possible configuration.  Let's do the math. 

20 JSF x $161M = $3.22 billion

Breaking the Bank?

That's $3.22B for one air wing on one LHA!

Remember that the JSF was the low cost alternative to the "expensive" F-22.  How'd that work out?  This program needs to be cancelled now, before we go and build two thousand of these and break the bank.

The worst part is that the JSF provides only modest overall improvements over the Super Hornet in terms of range and has a smaller weapons capacity (3000 lb vs 17,750 lb for the Hornet) without resorting to external hardpoints which reduce its range and negate its stealth.


  1. I agree. The JSF has just become too expensive. Cut the program invest in a new high performance carrier based fighter and a good long range strike aircraft. Dont obsess with stealth as it drives cost like nothing else.

    Also work on a dedicated STOVL strike aircraft for the marines.

    For now F-18SH is our only hope. But at 66mil per copy.....

  2. I don't know what the official military design rationale was for the JSF but looking at the published specs and capabilities, it seems that the JSF was intended to be a stealthy version of the Hornet. JSF has more range but much less weapons capacity than the Hornet. So, overall, a stealthy Hornet.

    Now, if the cost had turned out to be the same as the Hornet that might have been a reasonable decision. However, at around three times the cost, just to obtain stealth, that's a highly questionable decision. Personally, I'd rather have three Hornets than one JSF.

  3. you guys might want to use apple and apple costs
    TY $M US dollars for the combined F-35 A,B,C buy to year 2037
    The Program Acquisition Unit Cost (PAUC) inc. engine = $161 M
    The Procurement Unit Cost (APUC) inc. engine = $137.4 M
    BY2012 $M US dollars for the combined F-35 A,B,C buy
    The Program Acquisition Unit Cost (PAUC) inc. engine = $134.5 M
    The Procurement Unit Cost (APUC) inc. engine = $109.1 M
    As per charts below,
    Average F-35A Unit Recurring Flyaway (URF) Cost inc. engine = $78.7 M
    Average F-35B Unit Recurring Flyaway (URF) Cost inc. engine = $106.5 M
    Average F-35C Unit Recurring Flyaway (URF) Cost inc. engine = $87 M

    1. Anon not even the most ardent JSF supporter i know believes that is even possible. Those were the quoted cost at the begining of the program.

    2. Anon, I'm missing your point. I think you may be suggesting that the costs we've discussed are overstated? You cite lots of different costs and I'm unsure what you're trying to say. You may want to jump back in here and add a bit more explanation. Thanks!

  4. The F-35 has a unit cost of between $120 million (F-35A) and $155 million (F-35C). So far around 50 F-35's have been built. When a similar number of F/A-18E/F's had been built (in 1999) they had a unit cost of $105 million dollars* ($145 million in 2012 dollars). 500 Super Hornets have been built compared to a planned purchase of over 2,500 F-35's.

    If costs can fall from $145 million to $60 million over 500 copies why can't they fall from $120 million to $80 million over 2500 copies?



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