Stealth Fighter's Costs Soar


jsf_logo.jpgThe Pentagon has a motto for its next-generation attack jet, the Joint Strike Fighter: "Lethal, Survivable, Supportable, Affordable." But the military may want to think about modifying that a bit, now that each JSF is going to cost $82.1 million, according to Defense News. Just a few months ago, the head of the JSF program, Rear Admiral Steven Enewold, told me that the most expensive variant of the plane would come in at about $60 million.The JSF is designed to replace everything from Harrier jump jets to F-16s to Super Hornets with a single class of fighter. At a projected $256 billion, it's already the most expensive weapons program in Pentagon history.But the fighter makes sense in today's increasingly-tight budgets, RADM Enewold said, because the stealthy JSF not only could beat the air defenses of the future -- it could knock out guerilla hideouts, too.But that fiscal logic, he acknowledged, hinged on keeping the cost per plane down. Otherwise, sending this high-performance jet after insurgents would be like putting out a fire with Dom Perignon. Even before the latest price jump, the Government Accountability Office, Congress investigational arm, called the JSFs original business plan "unexecutable." Wonder what they'll say about the program now?UPDATE 9:10 AM: Here's some more budget news, all courtesy of Inside Defense:

* Army committed to troop cuts* Operating costs could ground laser jet* Rail gun not ready 'til 2020* 2008 deadline for Future Combat Systems?
UPDATE 2:05 PM: This is huge, if it holds up. I'm guessing it won't. A House subcommittee has passed legislation to limit the DD(X) destroyer program "to just two ships," Defense News says.
Rising DD(X) costs have prompted Congress to cut the program repeatedly, from as many as 30 ships planned in the late 1990s to just seven this year. Originally, the ships were supposed to cost about $1 billion each. Last year, the Navy said it could build them for $3.3 billion apiece, but independent estimates put the price at $4 billion or more per ship.The plan to halt the DD(X) buy at two would leave the Navy with a pair of ships that would serve mainly as demonstration models for a new generation of guided missile cruisers that would be built using the same hull.
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