The F-35 Lightning II fighter is the Pentagon’s biggest weapons program, and some media coverage makes it sound like it is also the most troubled. But if you scratch the surface on all that negative coverage, what you discover is a program that is progressing steadily. This is the third year in a row that flight tests are ahead of schedule, and negotiations for a fifth production lot of the fighters will carry the “flyaway” cost of the most common variant below $100 million. If the program stays on the learning curve it has been on since its inception, by the time production levels rise above 100 planes in Lot 10, the cost per aircraft will be similar to that of existing fighters such as the F-16. Allies like Israel and Japan have noticed the trend and are lining up to buy the plane. None of the eight original overseas partners shows signs of abandoning the program despite very tough economic conditions in Europe and elsewhere. I have written a commentary for Forbes explaining how well the program is faring that you can view here.
Find Archived Articles: