Strike Fighter Catch-22

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Here's the catch (according to the manufacturer and military) -- costs are rising, but if you try to cut back, it's going to cost even more. Congress is getting edgy about the money sink that is the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and is trying to slow down production. That will only drive the cost per unit higher, say Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Air Force. The projected price under the current plan would be about $47 million each. If production slows, that could rise as high as $62 million, leading to fewer purchases and yet higher costs. "We're trying to get out of that spiral," Lockheed exec Tom Burbage told Reuters. The prototype of the fighter is now in development, and first flight is expected later this year. The F-35, which will have advanced computer controls to ease pilot workload, will replace the Navy/Marine Corps FA-18 Hornet and the Air Force's F-16 Fighting Falcon and A-10 Thunderbolt.