Thursday, May 3, 2018

F-35 Logistics Support Costs

Holy staggering sums of money, Batman (older readers will get the reference)!  Lockheed has been awarded a $1.4B contract for “recurring logistics services for delivered F-35” (1).  Here’s the announcement,

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is awarded a $1,421,735,530 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for recurring logistics services for delivered F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter air systems in support of the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, non-Department of Defense (DoD) participants, and foreign military sales (FMS) customers.  Services to be provided include ground maintenance activities; action request resolution; depot activation activities; Automatic Logistics Information System operations and maintenance; reliability, maintainability and health management implementation and support; supply chain management; and activities to provide and support pilot and maintainer initial training.  Work … is expected to be completed in April 2019.”

That’s a one year logistics support contract for $1.4 billion dollars!!!!!!

As of 13-Mar-2018, around 280 F-35s have been produced.  Doing the math, that equates to $5M dollars of logistics support per aircraft for the upcoming year.

$5M per aircraft !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And that doesn’t include parts, fuel, or military labor costs – all the things that you would commonly think of as operational costs.  Those are extra!

Does the F-35 burn money instead of jet fuel?



  1. Around 40 of so of those planes produced are for foreign buyers, and some of the earliest US planes arent likely to be operational. Actual spending is per aircraft is likely to be $6-7mill

    1. And how many hours are these planes flying per year? Max would be around 500, right? If you say that this contract is to service around 200 planes, that tacks on an additional $14000/hr. If planes are only racking up 250 hours that would be $28000!

    2. You better expect 100-200 flying hours per airframe and year.

      200 is above NATO requirements, 100 would be below but not unheard-of for an aircraft with teething troubles.

  2. Wow, seems quite extravagant for such a small fleet, especially since some of these are new jets!

    IS this the money for the infamous upgrades or is that different contract?

    Wonder how much of this is to fix ALIS?

  3. In the 1980's we were outraged over $800 toilet seats. Ah, the good old days.

  4. 1.4 billion bucks weighs 3,080,000lbs equivalent
    to 452,940 gallons of JP, enough to fuel 24.5 F-35s,
    internal tanks. Thus we know how many F-35s are combat
    capable. (it's a joke son, it's a joke)

    Foghorn Leghorn, The Bland Corp.

  5. Such support contracts get less public scrutiny than the buying of platforms, so rip-offs and corruption should be expected in this area.

    Did anyone create an analysis of how much they deviated from the fantasy lifetime cycle costs claims that were published when the aircraft purchase was still up for debate?

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Its very strange that Trump does seem to see the problems in the US Military industrial complex?

      Hmm, Im not talking politics but he almost never addresses this kind of money waste that is going on there ?

    2. Now that's not true. Trump got involved in the F-35 negotiations and claimed to have significantly lowered costs (highly debatable as to what degree of influence he actually had but he clearly had interest). He also go personally involved in the replacement Presidential aircraft procurement. He's trying to pull troops out of the Syrian mess. He's stated that the EMALS is a waste of money (though he appeared to only have an incomplete understanding of the technology). And so on. I actually find him far more interested and involved than any of his predecessors.

  7. I swear this is how the JSF was conceived.

    Project Goal 1: Be unkillable. Congress cant kill it; spread sub contracts out everywhere. Congress cant curtail production like F-22.

    Project Goal 2: Make careers. Stretch development out so long, you can make it your career and get a cushy retirement gig at LM or in a lobbying firm.

    Project Goal 3: Make it so complex, evolving and fluid there is no real standard to be held to, so DOD cant balk at unit quality. Refer to Goal 1.


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