Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Stealth fighter to cost more than originally forecast

The Winnipeg Free Press:

Ottawa - National Defence says it's been told the unit price of the F-35 stealth fighter will be higher than the $75 million it planned for, but the military insisted late Monday it can still deliver the program on budget.

The Pentagon, in a recent report to the U.S. Congress, outlined a laundry list of cost increases in the US$382 billion development of the advanced fighter-bomber.

"Canada is not a recipient of the report, however, as an international partner in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) project, we have been advised that it forecasts an increase in production costs for the JSF Program," said a written statement released to The Canadian Press.

The acknowledgment of the price change came as another American report suggested the cost of operating the jets could be billions of dollars more than expected.

An estimate by a Pentagon cost-analysis unit projects it will cost $915 billion to keep the U.S. fleet of 2,443 jets flying for 30 years.

The document, leaked to Bloomberg in Washington, forecasts a lifetime maintenance bill of roughly $375 million per aircraft.

Using the Pentagon numbers, the 65 planes would cost more than $24 billion to maintain over 30 years, well above Canadian government estimates.

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