Colin Robertson - Beyond the Border, 2013: inching toward a deal Mark Collins - The Cliveden Set: Not Entirely a Bad Thing?
Dec 13

Further to this post, and the “Comments” where some important points are noted:

F-35 and New Canadian Government Documents on Fighter Procurement

1) South of the border costs are not exactly coming down fast, note price is without engine:

Pentagon Says Will Sign F-35 Deal, Price Emerges

The U.S. Defense Department said it will sign a contract with Lockheed Martin Corp on Friday [Dec. 14] for a fifth group of 32 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets, a long-awaited deal that moves forward the most costly weapons program in U.S. history.

The Pentagon also expects to reach an agreement soon with Lockheed on early funding for a sixth group of F-35s, a step that could help reduce a potential $1.1 billion liability the weapons maker faced from work it had already done on the jets without a signed contract, a senior defense official said.

The Pentagon will pay about 4 percent less [emphasis added] for each new Lockheed Martin Corp F-35A fighter jet when it signs a deal worth $3.8 billion with the No. 1 U.S. defense contractor on Friday, according to sources familiar with the deal.

The cost of each conventional takeoff and landing jet in the fifth production contract will be around $107 million, excluding the engine, said the sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly. That compares to a price of $111.6 million in the fourth contract with Lockheed.

The Pentagon is negotiating a separate agreement with Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp, for the engines that will power the new warplanes. Pentagon officials hope to conclude that agreement by the end of the year as well…”


F35: Pentagon LRIP 5 “Agreement in Principle”/USAF 6th Gen. Fighter Thinking

As Canadian major media now catch up with 3Ds.

2) Down Under:

Australia Considers More F/A-18s If Joint Fighter Delayed

Australia will look at buying 24 more Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets in the event of any major new setbacks to the controversial Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter project, Defence Minister Stephen Smith said on Thursday [Dec. 13].

That means Australia could buy fewer stealth F-35 Joint Strike Fighters than originally planned and is another sign that development partners are growing frustrated by delays and cost overruns to the $396 billion programme, which is the costliest programme in Pentagon procurement history.

The announcement comes a day after Canada also said it would look to other options for its jet fighters due to mounting concerns over the development and cost of the F-35s [see first link in this post].

“Australia’s air combat capability is a vital part of our national security framework. The government will not allow a gap in our air combat capability to occur,” Smith said on Thursday.

Australia foreshadowed the decision in May, when it delayed orders for its first squadron of F-35s by two years to help with budget savings and to put Australia’s F-35s on the same timetable as those for the United States.

Australia originally planned to by up to 100 F-35s, for up to $16.4 billion, but has made no commitment beyond its first 14 aircraft. Australia has committed to two joint strike fighters to be delivered in 2014-15, but they will remain in the United States for testing and pilot training.

It was due to decide by the end of this year on the timing of its next order of 12 F-35s, but that decision has now been pushed back to next year, while the government considers options to replace its Classic F/A-18s…

Australia also has 24 of the new generation F/A-18F Super Hornets, which entered service in 2010 and 2011, and 12 of those have been upgraded with sophisticated U.S. jamming equipment [Growler equivalent, more at this good webpage–something the RCAF might consider? more here].

Smith said Australia would write a letter of request to the United Sates, seeking cost and availability information for an extra 24 Super Hornet under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales programme. But he said no decision had been made to buy more Super Hornets…’


F-35: Australian National Audit Office Report
[Aussies will have a hard time keeping their “classic” Hornets flying as they wait for F-35s–a big issue also for the RCAF, see link belown]
Australia and F-35: Misleading Canadian Story

Mark Collins is a prolific Ottawa blogger

6 Responses to “Mark Collins - F-35: Meanwhile in the US and Australia”

  1. MarkOttawa Says:

    That “major media” piece also catches up a bit with us, near the end,
    on this matter:

    “USN UCAV (armed drones) Plans Update”

    And quotes Steve Staples:

    ‘…Rideau Institute president Steve Staples said the U.S. military plans for a new jet shows the folly of the Conservative government’s original plan to buy the F-35. “This is just a huge treadmill being paid for by public dollars and you can be sure that before the paint is dry on any F-35s Canada buys, our generals will be claiming they need a so-called sixth generation fighter as well,” said Staples, a critic of the F-35 and excessive defence spending.

    He said the current fleet of Canadian CF-18s could be kept flying and used for the defence of North America for years to come…’

    Until they really start dropping from the skies, I guess, or until it is impossible (or too expensive) to keep them flying. In which case the RCAF goes out of the fighter business and Mr Staples wears a great big grin. More on the fellow and his baby–which our major media somehow never manage to mention when identifying him:

    Mark Collins

  2. MarkOttawa Says:

    From a post this February:

    here are some real numbers…procurement costs only:
    [ ]

    1) F-35A, FY 2013 (p. 13): $3565.7M for 19 aircraft, or $187.7M each.

    By comparison the figures for FY 2012 are $3518.6M for 18 aircraft, or $195.5 each. Cost coming down though from a terribly high level.

    2) Super Hornet, FY 2013 (p. 24): $2065.4M for 26 aircraft, or $79.4M each.

    By comparison the figures for FY 2012 are $2303.4M for 28 aircraft, or $82.3M each. Cost still coming down on a long-running program.

    I have no idea how these procurement figures would compare to equivalent Canadian calculations. But it is clear the F-35A has a long way to go before its costs get anywhere near the Super Hornet’s…’

    Mark Collins

  3. MarkOttawa Says:

    A now (aka Steve Staples) writes your letter to the editor for you! But the major media will almost all turn a willfully blind eye to what he’s up to. Get to 2 at the bottom here:

    “No stealth fighters! Send your letter to the editor”

    Mark Collins

  4. MarkOttawa Says:

    And now (aka Steve Staples) writes your letter to the editor for you! But the major media will almost all turn a willfully blind eye to what he’s up to. Get to 2 at the bottom here:

    “No stealth fighters! Send your letter to the editor”

    Mark Collins

  5. milnews_ca Says:

    Touche on the “never mentioning” bit!

  6. MarkOttawa Says:

    As for engine costs, Canadian DND puts their Unit Recurring Flyaway cost total cost at C$835 million (scroll down to Table 2 here: )

    For 65 F-35As that would be about C$13 million each. Now most RCAF planes would be bought quite a few years down the line when engine costs are less than now. In fact the Pentagon is currently paying some $25 million per F-35A engine (see first contract under “Navy” here, $520 million for 21 Air Force engines):

    At full rate production–whenever–that should come down considerably though who knows if the DND figures are realistic.

    But say the next batch of F-35A engines costs $22 million each. That would seem to make the URF cost of each LRIP 5 plane about $129 million. WAG-wise, who knows what costs should be included for equivalence with a combat-capable aircraft.

    Mark Collins

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