The F-35's reputation for being over-priced, under-performing and overdue is etched in stone at this point. For an aircraft that's been in development for a dozen years, no one still knows what it will eventually cost nor how well it will actually perform when it's ready to enter service.
Now a U.S. federal auditor is questioning whether the F-35 has become simply unaffordable.
...federal auditor Michael J. Sullivan,
acquisitions director of the Government Accountability Office, told a
Senate subcommittee in Washington current projections call for a $316
billion outlay from development to purchase of the Lockheed Martin
fighter jet through 2037.
Operation and maintenance costs for the U.S. inventory of the F-35
alone could top $1 trillion over a 35-year lifespan, Sullivan told the
Senate defense appropriations subcommittee.
"Congress may want to consider whether the funding assumptions are
reasonable in our current fiscal environment," Sullivan said in a
response to Subcommittee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Pentagon chief weapons tester J. Michael Gilmore says F-35 costs are
rising also because of frequent fixes to problems reported during flight
tests and warned the "most challenging portions" of the testing have
not yet begun.
"We haven't actually tested any combat capability," Gilmore told
senators, adding there may not be enough time or cash for full testing
of crucial capabilities.