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Wed Dec 18, 2013, 11:05 AM

Lockheed Boasts F-35 Will Cost Less Than ‘Any 4th Gen Fighter’


AIR FORCE PLANT 4, FORT WORTH: No one should believe that the battle between Boeing and Lockheed for the right to build Navy fighters is over.

Lockheed Boasts F-35 Will Cost Less Than ‘Any 4th Gen Fighter’
By Colin Clark
on December 17, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Boeing keeps pushing the low cost, readiness and availability of the F-18. It’s here, it’s proven, and, they say, a new F/A-18E/F Super Hornet will cost just over $50 million for a fully equipped airplane, should the Navy decide to buy more.

During a briefing here before the rollout ceremony for the one hundredth Joint Strike Fighter, Lockheed Martin’s direct, articulate, and fittingly named general manager for the JSF, Lorraine Martin, made this bold pledge during a briefing for reporters: By 2019, the F-35A (the Air Force version) will cost $75 million a copy in current dollars ($85 million in good ole then-year dollars, i.e. counting future inflation), which will be “less than any fourth generation fighter in the world.” That means no other fighter already flying (one sold in US dollars or Euros) will cost less — not the famously inexpensive Gripen, not the French Rafale, the Russian MiG-35, the Boeing F-15 Eagle, or the European Typhoon.

And Martin, known for helping to right Lockheed Martin’s most important program — which had been very wobbly — went even further: “I think we can do even better.” Skeptics will, of course, note that her prediction can’t be tested for five years. That’s forever in Pentagon budget terms. In legislative years, it’s not quite as far away — only two elections. Is it marketing? Of course it is. But it’s also a clear sign that Lockheed continues to target the Navy above all other clients.

A battle has brewed inside the Navy and between the Navy and the Office of Secretary of Defense over when the service should start buying F-35Cs and how many it should buy. Most recently, the Navy “goofed” and issued and then withdrew a pre-solicitation offer for up to a mix of up to 36 F-18 Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers, the radar-jamming variant.

unhappycamper comment: I have NO idea where these numbers come from. I do know the FA-18F is around one hundred million dollars, delivered. The Growler version is around $120 million or so.

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