By Dr. Monique M. Maldonado
Contributor, In Homeland Security
Last month, Lockheed Martin’s CEO Marilyn Lewis announced that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s price decreased by nearly 60 percent. As America’s largest purchase to date, with a cost nearing $400 billion, the F-35 has spent the past 15 years experiencing technological and software issues. This fighter jet is now operational for the United States to officially use for training, testing and real-world scenarios.
According to CNBC contributor Tom DiChristopher, the F-35 made its first appearance on July 8 at the world’s largest military air show in Farnborough, England. Lewis was ecstatic to announce the fighter’s unveiling and emphasized its vertical landing capability, which is an important component to the Marine Corps’ mission operations.
At the show, she thought the crowd would be pleased with the fighter’s grand debut and performance after nearly 20 years of production and testing. Although excitement was definitely apparent about the fighter’s official use and display, critics are hesitant to praise this aircraft. The F-35 is the most expensive aircraft to date and has cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
Because of its stealth reconnaissance and intricate capabilities that caused multiple performance problems, the F-35 surpassed the program’s budget of $300 billion, giving naysayers the opportunity to call the fighter “America’s worst jet.” However, there are supporters who believe the F-35 is an innovative and sophisticated asset that the United States can use to defeat enemies in modern warfare.
How F-35 Sales Will Improve Costs
Nearly 200 of the F-35 fighter jets are now operational, which decreased the hefty price that once pushed towards $110 million per aircraft. With the F-35 program regaining its momentum, aviation experts predict that the fighter’s cost will shrink to double digits by 2019.
According to Colin Clark of the online magazine Breaking Defense, Program Executive Officer Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan stated the Air Force’s model, the F-35A variant, “will hit $80 million by 2019 and he expects the price will go lower, especially when it hits on multi-year procurement in a few years.” With such a promising forecast about the fighter’s future cost, the F-35 will be more affordable and cheaper than the U.S. military’s current fourth-generation aircraft.
Will the United States and its Coalition Force Purchase More Fighter Jets?
Together, the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Turkey, Australia, Italy, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Israel, Japan and South Korea purchased over 3,000 F-35 jets during the program’s inception in October 2001. Countries such as Norway, Singapore and Belgium have shown specific interest in the purchase of the F-35s, as the importance of defense and air superiority rises. U.S. security partners now realize the importance of air dominance and increased their defense spending budgets to support the F-35 program.
Having countries purchase the F-35s in bulk will not only be beneficial for the production phase, but will save hundreds of millions of dollars for the U.S. government budget. DiChristopher stated that “buying a large number of jets at a time [in terms of the United States’ 12th line of planes]…could potentially generate savings of $2 billion.”
With lower prices for F-35 fighter jets, countries will be able to purchase more aircraft for their fleets and complete significant, sensitive operations such as the war on ISIS. Air dominance and defense are key elements to combating terrorism, especially with today’s modernized terroristic tactics around the globe.
If the United States, its coalition forces and security partners have a comfortable amount of F-35s in stock to complete global operatives, there is no doubt that such forces will be mission-ready. They will show the opposition that the F-35 is a brilliant, innovative aircraft that is a primary force to deter terrorism and protect national security.