Mark Collins - F-35: US LRIP 5,6 Costs Mark Collins - “Documents on Canadian External Relations”, Volume 6, 1936-1939, edited by John A. Munro, or…
Jan 04

Further to this post,

F-35: US LRIP 5,6 Costs

I’d like to know how Lockheed Martin can give any firm price estimates for possible Canadian F-35As and I’d like to know how far to the right any Canadian acquisition might have to be pushed to get a price we can (supposedly) afford–especially as there is that pesky problem of keeping our CF-18s operational longer. At MILNEWS.ca:

  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)The call is out for five American and European fighter jet manufacturers to polish up their sales pitches and give the Canadian government a ring. Following the mid-December update of F-35 cost estimates and re-setting of the process to replace the old CF-18 fleet, Public Works Department officials have written to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Dassault Aviation, EADS Eurofighter and Saab Group to say that the government will soon ask them what they could offer as the new mainstay for Canada’s air force. “A key component of this undertaking is a market analysis of fighter aircraft currently in production or scheduled to be in production,” said Deputy Minister Michelle d’Auray in the letter sent with little fanfare on Dec. 27. “Your company’s participation in this endeavour will greatly assist the Government of Canada in its assessment of options for a fighter replacement capability well into the 21st Century.” ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2) The Defence Minister in a year-end interview ” …. Right now, before we have spent a dime on the acquisition of F-35, because we have not, over 70 companies have won nearly $450 million in contracts to build this leading aircraft. The issue around the cost, I want to be very clear, the cost to buy this aircraft is $9 billion. I would suggest to you that any new fighter aircraft is going to be in that ball park. That’s the price we have set aside to buy a replacement for the CF-18s …. I’ll say it again, we have not spent a dime on the acquisition cost. We will not spend more than $9 billion on the acquisition cost ….We’ve looked at other aircraft before, let’s be clear about that, but we’re going to do it again. To increase confidence for both the Auditor General but most importantly the Canadian public, we’ve asked that it be done independently. So we have people with technical experience and auditing experience; people who are arms length from the government itself to look at what are the other available aircraft on the market. What are the other planes that would suit Canada’s needs and still be in this price envelope ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (3b) Ooopsie…. “U.S. builders of America’s most advanced combat aircraft, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, are still frantically rushing to put in place cutting edge technology that would secure the aircraft’s avionics from Chinese hacker attacks, U.S. intelligence sources told ISSSource ….”

More on costs at a post from February 2012:

Current US Procurement Costs for F-35A and Super Hornet

here are some real numbers, via “U.S. Weapon Systems 2013 Budget Summaryprocurement 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. And, given that cuts in US F-35 buys over the next few years have been confirmed, it is hard to see the F-35A’s costs coming down rapidly

The RCAF is still supposed to take delivery of its F-35As from 2016 to 2022 [with “Full Operational Capability” in 2025!]; one would love to know the costs during that period…

One still would.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Research Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute

One Response to “Mark Collins - Canada Looking (sort of) Beyond F-35 for New Fighter”

  1. LukeSandoz Says:

    If you wonder why they can’t price out a future delivery of the F-35, do you also wonder how they costed out the acquisition and 42 years of operating costs? Right down to the cost of the coffee for the Pilot Prep room.

    Or how the PBO, despite a $billion dollar adding error, could invent a future costing method based on the weight of legacy aircraft?

    Probably not. You seem to have a bad case of F-35 angst.

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