Tuesday, May 28, 2013

F-35: Costs per aircraft drop as program begins to hit stride

Another sign of progress that will really upset critics who've been more than happy to tell everyone who will listen that what just happened is impossible. In short, what happened is the cost per aircraft has dropped overall:
Overall, the average procurement cost per plane dropped from $109.2 million in 2011 to $104.8 million in 2012. The main driver of the reduction is a drop in the labor rates for Lockheed, Pratt and their subcontractors, as well as revised airframe and subcontractor estimates.

 Unit Recurring Flyaway costs — the total cost for the platform, engine, mission and vehicles systems and engineering change orders — remained fairly steady, with the average of the F-35A variant dropping from $78.7 million to $76.8 million, and the Navy’s carrier variant rising from $87 million to $88.7 million.

The largest drop came from the Marine Corps F-35B jump-jet model, which dropped the average almost $3 million, from $106.4 to $103.6 million.
What does this mean, besides a more affordable aircraft?  It means that the projections and promises the manufacturer made weren't just a bunch of hot air.  It means that if DoD continues to procure F-35's at a pace that allows the economies of scale necessary to drive down costs that the aircraft can continue to see price reductions.

And it also means the critics were wrong. 



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