U$85 million. That is what the F-35 LIGHTNING II will cost operators under volume production conditions. At least, that is the target price for the F-35A variant according to an announcement made by programme officials at Farnborough this week.
Officials confirmed the extension of a joint government/industry initiative aimed at reduction of production costs, dubbed the ‘Blueprint for Affordability,’ and also described a second initiative focused on reduction of support and sustainment costs (the Sustainment Cost Reduction Initiative), with the intent of saving 10% (equating to $1 billion) over FY2018-2022.
With the Unit Recurring Flyaway Cost (URFC) currently standing at about $100 million for an F-35A, such a reduction will be welcome news to the entire community – although no figures were given for the F-35B STOVL or F-35C carrier launched variants, both of which will be significantly higher. The reduced price will apply to aircraft produced with effect from 2019.
In a parallel announcement Lockheed Martin said that, in collaboration with BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman, the company will invest some $250 million in initiatives aimed at bulk buy of spares and the creation of regional hubs for the aircraft’s Autonomous Logistics Information System (ALIS).
F-35 Joint Programme Office head Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan indicated that initial selections for avionics repair services will be made in November. He also revealed that previous indications of probable regional depots for overhaul of airframes and engines should not be considered as definitive: ‘best value’ will continue to be the overriding selection criterion for such decisions, he explained.