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$1T to operate a fleet of 2,443 F-35 for 50 years
By Andrea Shalal-Esa (Reuters) WASHINGTON | Sun Feb 26, 2012 4:35pm EST
"Lieutenant General Terry Robling, deputy Marine Corps commandant for aviation, said top defense officials agreed last week to continue low-rate production of the new radar-evading warplane built by Lockheed Martin Corp, while keeping a close eye on the cost of maintaining and operating the new jets."
Robling:"We understand the costs are high. We understand that we need to do something, we need to make decisions down the road."
"Robling said the cost estimate would likely decline in coming years as more jets were built and flown, reducing the reliance on comparison data from other aircraft programs."
"Unless the estimates do come down substantially, the Pentagon may have to decide to buy fewer airplanes, reduce the number of anticipated flight hours, or skip adding certain capabilities to the plane, Robling said, although he noted that decision point could still be five to 10 years off."
""It's an unaffordable program at the numbers that we're using," Robling said. But he cautioned that the F-35 was still in development and much of the reliability data was preliminary, based on just 2,500 hours of flight time on the new warplane.""
""The Pentagon's high-level Defense Acquisition Board met last week to review the F-35 program and its sustainment cost, but the F-35 program office is still working on a comprehensive review of the operation and maintenance costs, Robling said.""
"Decisions on the program's longer-term future and the expected total procurement amount were still a long way off, Robling said. "Over the next couple of years, maybe even five years, 10 years, I think the program will mature to the point where we go, 'OK, this is where we're going to stop.' Or we'll decide to continue because we see them getting the price lower.""
"Roblin said Lockheed and the Pentagon's F-35 program office had made great strides in better managing the program over the past two years. "They've driven out a lot of cost, and they're still finding ways to do that."
Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/ ... RV20120226