The F-35A was developed to revolutionize the procurement of combat aircraft for the Air Force.
It would take on the missions of multiple planes and do anything. Maintenance would be cheaper and easier thanks to the latest computer software. The list of aircraft it would replace was long. However, operating costs for the aircraft, which are around $ 36,000 per hour, are still around $ 10,000 more expensive than older fighters in the Air Force inventory.
“The biggest cost challenge we face on the airplane is the life cycle cost of the jet,” said Brig. General David Abba, director of the Air Force’s F-35 integration office. “What I can tell you is that the Air Force is laser focused on this.”
While the F-35 remains an incredibly powerful aircraft, the Air Force appears to have decided to diversify its fleet. The F-15EX – an upgraded version of the F-15 that first flown in the 1970s – is on the acquisition bloc, and the first F-15EX was shipped to the Air Force this month. Recent comments from Chief of Staff of the Air Force Charles Brown Jr. also pointed out the possibility of sourcing a light fighter to replace the aging F-16.
“The idea that the US will somehow just forego this program because of some affordability issues is insane,” said Justin Bronk, an aeronautical and technology research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute. “Of course you have to think about the future fighter mix. That makes sense because the sums don’t add up and they haven’t added up for a long time.”
Check out the video above to learn more about the most expensive weapon system in history.