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F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)

Good2Golf said:
OGBD, it may sound simple, but the only way of knowing what a "unit flyaway cost" for a particular nation is, is to divide the total acqusition contract by number of airframes...simple as that.  Pick any aircraft procured in recent times and even if very similar, there is not a single nation that has paid the same as another nation for the same aircraft...even in joint programs.  Look back at CC-177. Physically differing pretty much by only a roundel and radio-call placard, yet not the same as any other C-17 user's "unit flyaway cost."

Sums it up nicely, explains my headache.  Leads to multiple versions of "the price" being used to compare/confuse with different prices.  If the F-18E is your babe_plane, you quote the URFC compared to the F-35 PAUC or APUC to "prove" how much cheaper it is.  Not fair but used all the time. The other scam is to change the duration of Life Cycle Support, which increases the Program costs.  The PBO did this in their report which lead  to the Canada's elite journalists to report the F-35 price  had vastly increased, implying the government/DND was hiding this information from the  public.  They still use the line "the most expensive military program in history" as a pejorative description without explaining that it is the only program costed over 50 years and is a highly misleading number.  Imagine if they published the same/same price for the  USN SSN or CVN fleet?

People are used to the URFC concept of price. Go and buy a car and you have a price to drive it off the lot.  You own it, you can park it, drive it,  whatever.

We know it will cost us to operate the car, but if I drive 3,500km a year and you drive 35,000km a year,  ordinary folks will understand there will be two vastly different operating costs. Gas, maintenance, insurance etc. . . .

The definitions for the costing methodologies are pretty strict . . .  see the graphic.

Oldgateboatdriver said:
Thanks GTG.

That is what I did, and that is why I am trying to understand how the Aussies can be so far below everybody else in fly away cost, even drastically lower than LochMart's own "drive-off-the-lot" price.

What I was wondering is are they acquiring the combat suite/avionics/engines, etc. separately and then it doesn't count in their advertised purchase price. What are they doing different than anyone else?

OGBD, some projects, especially those with Foreign Military Sales (FMS) components, treat sub-items as separate procurements, engines, radios, avionics, EW eqpt, etc…  So unless you add up not only the prime airframe acquisition, but also all the separately contracted parts, it would be hard to determine total pricing.  Some contracts even go one step further and include provision of separate components as power-by-the-hour 'capability' within an in-service contract, and not even acquisition….even more complex.


During an unrelated google search a 1987 AG report offered itself to me. 

An interesting train-wreck of a project

Aircraft fundamentally flawed with cracks appearing in brand new beasts and the department stopping delivery
Capital projects like buildings covered under O&M
Weapons bought under separate projects with bigger tickets than the prime vehicle
Department paying sooner than it had to and thus losing interest on money that could have been sitting in their bank
Life Cycle costs debatable
Treasury Board had not fully funded the project

Ah for the good old days....

By the way - other items on the agenda - Small arms replacement, a new light artillery system, destroyer life extension, new frigates......

Plus ca change.

New Fighter Aircraft (CF-18)

9.107 Background. In April 1980, Cabinet selected the CF-18 as Canada's new fighter aircraft to
replace the fleet of CF-101 and CF-104 aircraft and those CF-5 aircraft committed to NATO. A
budget-year ceiling of $5.19 billion was approved for the procurement of 138 aircraft and associated
logistic support including spares, maintenance and training equipment.

9.108 In 1984, we reported on the needs identification, planning, and the early stages of the
acquisition of the CF-18 aircraft.

9.109 Since 1984, the Department has been heavily involved in introducing the aircraft to its bases
in Cold Lake, Bagotville, and Baden. Activities have focused on taking delivery of new aircraft,
training pilots and servicing staff, establishing second line support capability, and contracting for
third-line maintenance support.

9.110 A contract was awarded to a consortium of Canadian companies in October 1986 to establish
in Canada a system engineering support capability and airframe repair and overhaul services for the
CF-18. Cabinet gave approval of expenditures up to $104 million. This is based on estimates of the
activities expected during the first four years of the contract.
9.111 Installation of a weapons software support facility is nearing completion at the Canadian
Forces Base at Cold Lake, Alberta. This is the first of two software support facilities identified by the
Department as being essential to supporting the CF-18 weapon system. The Department has
estimated the cost of each facility to be approximately $45 million.

9.112 A design defect that resulted in cracks in the area of the vertical tail assemblies of the
aircraft became evident in 1984. The manufacturer subsequently arranged for the repair and
modification of all aircraft in the field. During that period, the Project Management Office refused to
accept delivery of new aircraft until the necessary modifications were completed at the factory.

9.113 In response to a directive from Treasury Board, the Project Management Office prepared a
revised Project Brief to define more clearly those items that were being procured within the main
project. Treasury Board approved the revised Project Brief in February 1985.

9.114 Delivery of the last aircraft is scheduled for September 1988. The Department estimates that
the project will be completed within the approved budget.

9.115 Observations. The CF-18 Prime Mission Vehicle contract requires payments to be made within
30 days after accomplishment of certain events and the receipt of the contractor's invoices and
supporting documents. Payments to the contractor may be made at a bank in Ottawa designated by
the contractor. This enables the Department to take full advantage of the 30-day payment period.
However, our review indicated that some payments were made in advance of due dates. As a result,
the Crown incurred an avoidable interest cost of approximately $7 million, based on Treasury Board
rates and formulae. The Department told us that, in fact, this frequently occurred in projects of this
type because of a government policy to expedite payments. In August 1985, the government
introduced a different policy of Payment on Due Date, and since then payments have been made on
the due dates.

9.116 The Prime Mission Vehicle contract provides for milestone payments to be made against
approved invoices for 120 per cent of target costs for work scheduled to be completed at the time
of payment. The contract also provides that these payments may be reduced if the payments todate
will exceed the sum of actual costs and allowable profit. We found that payments exceeded
actual costs and profits between April 1980 and August 1984 without any reductions being made in
milestone payments. As a result, the Crown incurred further interest costs of approximately $4
million during this period. Since August 1984, contractor reported costs and profits have consistently
exceeded DND payment amounts.

9.117 In 1984 we also reported on the audit provisions of the aircraft contract, and we expressed
concern about the adequacy of the direction that the Department of Supply and Services had
provided to the United States Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) to verify the validity of costs
recorded by the contractor. We have since found that significant improvements have taken place in
the audit coverage provided for the aircraft contract and in the information reported by DCAA to

9.118 We reviewed the planning documents for acquisition of software support. The requirement for
a software support facility was identified in the 1979 CF-18 Project Brief. When funding for this
project was approved, the design and cost for a software support facility was not defined because
sufficient information was not available. Since then, a requirement for a second software support
facility has been developed. The set-up of each facility is estimated to cost in excess of $45 million.
The weapon system software support facility is funded through the CF-18 project budget, but the
electronic warfare software support facility was designated for funding from the departmental
operations and maintenance budget. Projects of this type are capital in nature and proper,
consistent treatment would require both facilities to be funded from the CF-18 capital budget.
Following a departmental review, it was decided to fund the second facility from the departmental
capital budget. We are concerned that projects of this nature are being funded from funds outside
the CF-18 project and that the cost of the CF-18 project is therefore being understated.

9.119 We reviewed the contracting process for awarding the implementation contract for the
weapon system software support facility. We found that the management practices employed were

9.120 In December 1983, Treasury Board directed that the 1979 CF-18 Project Brief be updated
because the Ministers had expressed concerns about the visibility and accountability for the total
cost of acquiring the entire CF-18 weapons system and about the clarity of the baseline against
which the performance and costs of the CF-18 project are to be measured. In our 1984 Report we
also expressed concerns that the 1979 Project Brief did not specifically and clearly define the
requirements to be purchased from the project budget and those to be purchased from operations
and maintenance. In February 1985, the Public Accounts Committee also expressed concern over

9.121 In February 1985, a revised CF-18 Project Brief was approved by Treasury Board. The revised
Brief further clarified the items to be acquired both inside and outside the project budget. In our
review of the revised Project Brief we noted that the project budget will procure spares to support
the first three years of initial operations and follow-on purchases will be made from the operations
and maintenance budget; the project budget will procure some aircraft maintenance support
equipment for contracted maintenance for the first two years of operations when the manufacturer
was providing contracted maintenance; technical data required for setting up and operating third
level maintenance would be procured from the operations and maintenance budget; and the project
budget would provide for certain stated major construction projects but would not include possible
construction of additional quarters, or for modifications or facilities except for those located at the
three main operating bases for the CF-18 aircraft.

9.122 In our 1984 Report we noted that the Department had identified a number of associated
capital projects related to but not included in the CF-18 purchase. We also noted that these range
from items considered indispensable to those classed as highly desirable for procurement if funding

9.123 The explanation of the need for these projects, as stated in the revised CF-18 Project Brief
approved in February 1985, confirmed our 1984 Report assessment of the priority of these projects.
This Brief also identified that the costing data provided for most of these projects would be subject
to amendment as the projects move through the departmental approval process. Our review of the
acquisition status of these projects indicated a number of minor additions and deletions.

9.124 The Department has updated the costs of these associated capital projects, and has taken
steps to identify those that should have been included in the original life-cycle costs. These
essential related projects would have cost $2.1 billion in 1984; largely because of inflation, we now
estimate these additional costs to be $2.7 billion. To date, less than $500 million has been approved
by Treasury Board and another $2.2 billion has departmental planning approval.
9.125 In 1980, the Department initiated a project valued at $368 million to acquire advanced air-tosurface
weapons. These weapons were needed to replace 30-year-old, time expired bombs that
were no longer capable of fulfilling their role. The Department has updated the cost of this separate
project at $3.7 billion. The increase in cost is largely due to increased cost of weapons, and
expansion of the project to include air-to-air and anti-radiation missiles.

9.126 In our review of the contracting process for the system engineering support capability we
found that the technical and financial evaluations of the bid submissions were comprehensive. There
were three consortia of companies participating in the final bid. The interdepartmental evaluation
team rated one bid to be superior in meeting project requirements, and lower in cost than the
second bid. The third bid was judged technically unacceptable. All three proposals satisfied the
single socio-economic criterion stipulated in the Request for Proposal.

9.127 Consequently, the CF-18 Senior Review Board agreed with the recommendation that the
contract be awarded to the leading consortium. This recommendation was then submitted to the
Ministers of the Departments of National Defence, Supply and Services, and Regional Industrial
Expansion. However, after their review, a submission was prepared by the Department of Supply and
Services recommending that the contract be awarded to the group ranked second by the
evaluators. Treasury Board gave its approval to this submission.

9.128 The President of the Treasury Board subsequently explained that the Government had made a
very deliberate choice to favour the selected firm because it was felt that downstream technology
transfer could be better done through the existing facilities of that firm which is a producer of
aircraft as well as being in the maintenance business.

9.129 The terms and conditions of a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the aircraft
manufacturer and the Departments of National Defence, Supply and Services and Regional Industrial
Expansion cover the transfer of technology for use only on the CF-18 weapon system. Similarly, the
Licence and Technical Assistance Agreement being negotiated between the manufacturer and the
selected consortium is limited to the CF-18. Should this consortium wish to use the technology for
other purposes, additional licensing agreements will have to be negotiated with the proprietors of
the technology. The cost of these additional arrangements is not known.
A major update for the RNLAF's F35 program:

Defense News

Dutch Parliament Clears F-35 Purchase

WASHINGTON — The Dutch Parliament has ratified the government’s choice of the F-35 as the Netherlands next-generation fighter, putting an end to a 15-year debate.

The vote on whether the stealthy plane will replace the Dutch fleet of F-16s occurred the evening of Nov. 7.

“This is a very important moment in history: Finally we can give clarity to our military and to our international partners,” Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the Dutch minister of defense, said in a statement released by the government. “With this choice for the F-35, we provide the Dutch Armed Forces with the best aircraft available to deal with the challenges of our time and of the future.”

Both Lockheed Martin, prime contractor on the plane, and engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney reacted positively to the news.

“Lockheed Martin is honored that the Netherlands Government has selected the F-35 as the F-16 replacement,” Lockheed Martin said in a company statement. “We are proud that for more than 30 years, the Royal Netherlands Air Force has owned and operated Lockheed Martin aircraft. Flying the F-35 will represent the next chapter of our partnering by providing the very best aircraft capabilities possible for Netherlands’ national security. Dutch Industry is currently involved in designing and manufacturing the F-35 and this program provides high technology jobs and long-term technology benefits to the Netherlands.”

“Pratt & Whitney is honored to be part of the Dutch government’s selection of the F135-powered F-35 Lightning II, and we look forward to supporting the Royal Netherlands Air Force and Dutch aerospace industry,” said Tyler Evans, director of international business development at Pratt & Whitney Military Engines.

“The Dutch are longtime partners in the program and we look forward to working with them in the future as we continue to deliver F-35s to the Royal Air Force,” Joe DellaVedova, spokesman for the F-35 Joint Program Office, said.

The Dutch government selected the fifth-generation fighter Sept. 17, releasing a statement calling the plane “a well-considered choice for a high-tech, future-oriented air force.’

The purchase will be for 37 of the F-35A conventional-take-off-and-landing variants, which will be the most widely produced model of the jet. The US Air Force intends to purchase more than 1,700 F-35As.

The Dutch have budgeted €4.5 billion (US $6 billion) for the F-35, which they believe will cover the 37 planes — a number the government’s statement says could grow.

Interesting article: it posits that design compromises to meet the USMC's demands for VSTOL have irreparably compromised the design.


It also cites a 2008 RAND wargame that sw the F35s destroyed by currently in-service Chinese aircraft.
Just keep in mind 37 vice 85:

dapaterson said:
Interesting article: it posits that design compromises to meet the USMC's demands for VSTOL have irreparably compromised the design.

There is a bit of a valid point in there about the utility of VSTOL fighter/ground attack aircraft.

When the dust settles on the JSF project, the US Marine Corps is planning on ending up with a mixed fleet of F-35B on assault ships and F-35C on carriers. Is that a good idea? If the USMC need their own fighter/bomber force, why can't they operate it entirely by catapult off carriers, as they did during the F-4 Phantom days?

Are there other benefits to VSTOL? Do assault ships ever operate independently from a carrier battle group, and would need their own VSTOL fighters to provide air cover?
MarkOttawa said:
Just keep in mind 37 vice 85:


Which of course just means they now know the F-35 capabilities are so great, they can do so much more with so much less.


Suppose the figured they could  pay almost twice as  much for a Eurofighter and get so much less performance.
Well, those capabilities were posited from the start when the 85 number was in play.  The Dutch are JSF partners (access to data, info for what that be worrh):

Thing is paying for them in the real world.  If they actually work in good real time.

What's up with the Koreans opting for a plane that might not work.

"Nov 15 (Reuters) - South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff were expected to endorse an "all F-35 buy" of 40 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets and an option for 20 more at a meeting on Nov. 22, two sources familiar with the competition said on Friday."

Haletown said:
What's up with the Koreans opting for a plane that might not work.
The AH/G-24 Banshee is taking longer to develop than they originally thought.
F-35 for the ROKAF? Please note previous discussions about the South Koreans' deciding whether to get the F15 Silent Eagle or the F35/

Defense News

Source: South Korea Will Likely Buy F-35

SEOUL — South Korea’s military will set new operational requirements and bid procedures for its F-X III fighter jet acquisition program Nov. 22, and an official with the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the F-35 will likely be selected.

The move comes after the contest was nullified in September when the country’s top arms procurement committee voted down a bid by Boeing to supply 60 F-15 Silent Eagle aircraft, citing the “4.5-generation” jet’s lack of radar-evading stealth capability.

“A top decision-making body of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will make a decision on the number of the aircraft to be bought, as well as new required operational capability for the F-X III,” Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters.

Multiple sources said the JCS has already set new requirements focused on enhanced stealth capability, which bolsters the chances of Lockheed Martin winning the $7.8 billion tender with its F-35 conventional takeoff version.

“After the Silent Eagle was voted down, the Air Force asked to buy fighter aircraft with enhanced stealth capabilities,” a JCS official said. “There is no doubt that the F-35 has more advanced stealth functions compared to its competitors.”

Against that backdrop, the spokesman said, the JCS is expected to decide not to open a new competition. Instead, the JCS is to approve a plan to buy F-35s via the US foreign military sale (FMS) program, he added.

Due to budget constraints, the JCS plans to procure about 40 F-35s initially, and 20 more jets could be bought if funding is available.

Once the JCS sets new F-X III requirements and procurement methods, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) will go ahead with procurement procedures early next year, DAPA spokesman Baek Yoon-hyung said.

“We could start FMS negotiations with the US government early next year should the JCS decide to buy F-35s,” said Baek. “Then, the delivery of the aircraft could start as early as in 2018.”

Still, some question the F-35’s high procurement costs and its technical maturity.

“The rub is that the per-unit price could not be guaranteed until the final delivery under the FMS procurement,” Kim Dae-young, a research member of the Korea Defense & Security Forum, a Seoul-based defense think tank. “In addition, there are worries that South Korea will not have a strong leverage in price and offset negotiations under the FMS program.”
Korea WILL buy . . . 40 now, maybe 20 more later.

"South Korea will buy 40 Lockheed Martin F-35As to satisfy a fighter requirement initially set at 60 aircraft, its joint chiefs of staff announced on Nov. 22."


Given the weekend's  events related to the Iranian nuclear (weapons) program the long standing enmity between Shia and Sunni sects and the even longer hatreds between Arab and Persians, this story will likely have legs.

I would bet the  Gulf States go on a major weapons procurement program and if Iran goes nuclear, then the genie is out of the bottle in the Gulf and the Saudis will procure nukes as well, Pakistan being the most likely source.

November 21, 2013
Credit: Lockheed Martin
Gulf buyers are nearing decisions to buy more current generation fighter jets, but the buzz at the Dubai Airshow was about Lockheed Martin Corp’s (LMT.N) radar-evading F-35 fighter - a plane not yet operational and not even on display there.

The U.S. government sent a big delegation to this year’s show, eager to reassure Gulf leaders about their continued commitment to the region despite policy differences over Syria and Iran and signs that Egypt is looking at buying Russian weapons after a slowdown in U.S. military aid.

For the first time, U.S. government and industry officials also spoke about the process under way to allow the sale of the Lockheed jet to the Gulf - probably about five years after Israel receives its first F-35 fighter jets in 2016.

One Gulf source familiar with the region’s defense market said the F-35 was generating a degree of excitement even before any U.S. decision to allow its sale to Gulf buyers.

The possibility that the F-35 aircraft might become available could explain why Gulf countries are taking their time with decisions on purchases of other fighters, the source said.

Heidi Grant, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for international programs, said Gulf buyers were focused on buying additional fourth-generation jets but were clearly interested in the F-35 - a so-called “fifth-generation” warplane that is designed to be nearly invisible to enemy radar.

“They’re just asking me to monitor it, and when it becomes available let (them) know,” Grant told Reuters in an interview. “They understand that we haven’t made a policy decision to open up in this region right now.”


Shades of "give it to Mikey, he'll eat anything".


Most entertaining. 

Apparently developed by a small Canadian firm aligned with Boeing pushing the Super Hornet.  Someone should tell the CBC the SH price is actually 1/3 the price of the JSF, not a measly steal at half the price.


I don't normally read CBC comments, but finally I found one that wasn't "Harper was on the grassy knoll"

Ron Alberta

What does a fighter jet cost?

Saudi Arabia just ordered 84 Boeing F-15SAs for delivery by 2018 at $136 million each. Australia bought 24 F-18 Boeing Super Hornets in 2007 for $125 million each. They are currently proposing to buy 24 more for $154 million each.

So Boeing will sell 65 Super Hornets to Canada for $55 million each? "If you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you."
Is there anything new in this or is it just more of what we already know.
Controversial F-35 purchase could bank Canadian businesses $9.9B
Murray Brewster,  The Canadian Press
Global News
10 Dec 2013

OTTAWA – Canada’s aerospace industry could be in line for slightly more benefits than previously estimated, if the Harper government decides to buy the oft-maligned F-35.

Documents tabled late Tuesday, as Parliament adjourned for its Christmas break, project that businesses in this country could land as much as $9.9 billion in contracts to construct and sustain parts for the Lockheed Martin-built stealth fighter.

The last estimate, tabled in the summer, pegged the potential industrial benefits at $9.4 billion.

The vast majority of that figure – $8.2 billion – would accrue throughout the projected life of the program under the 32 contacts already signed with U.S. defence giant, which gives companies from participating nations premium access to the work.

Industry Minister James Moore, who oversees the industrial benefits, sounded bullish, even though the future of the program is in doubt.

“Canada’s involvement as a partner in the Joint Strike Fighter Program (JSF) creates significant opportunities for the aerospace and defence industry,” Moore said in a statement accompanying the documents.

“As we move forward on replacing Canada’s fighter jets, our government is not only continuing our proven record of standing with our Forces, we are also making direct investments in the Canadian economy and creating skilled jobs for Canadian workers.”

It has been a year since the Harper government put the program on hold and began looking at aircraft other than the F-35, which has been plagued for years with cost-overruns and delays.

The government has taken every opportunity to underscore that it has not made a decision and Moore’s statement says the estimate is being given to Parliament in the interest of transparency.

A few months ago, a Lockheed Martin executive warned publicly that existing contracts signed by Canadian companies would likely not be renewed if the federal government went in another direction.

The auditor general savaged the plan to buy 65 radar-evading jets in his spring 2012 report, accusing National Defence and Public Works of not doing their homework and hiding the full cost.

The Conservatives went back to drawing board, ordering a series of independent evaluations, including one that estimated the full 42-year cost of ownership would be an eye-popping $44.6 billion.

The government has initially told the public the program would cost the treasury $16 billion over 20 years, but both the auditor general and the parliamentary budget officer said that figure did not include operations and sustainment costs – something taxpayers deserved to know ahead of time.

The purchase had been a political lightning rod since former defence minister Peter MacKay first signalled the country’s intention to go with the F-35 in the summer of 2010.

Among the measures the government mandated was a review of other potential replacement aircraft for the existing fleet of CF-18s.

A panel of independent experts is wading through technical and financial submissions. It is unclear when the Harper government will decide whether to scrap the plan and go out for tender – or stick with the existing program.
MCG said:
Is there anything new in this or is it just more of what we already know. http://globalnews.ca/news/1022291/controversial-f-35-purchase-could-bank-canadian-businesses-9-9-billion/
It appears this is the newest element....
Canada’s aerospace industry could be in line for slightly more benefits than previously estimated, if the Harper government decides to buy the oft-maligned F-35 ....

More straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak, in "Canadian Industrial Participation in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program" (Fall 2013) and "Next Generation Fighter Capability Annual Update - August 2013".  Also a bit more in the PWGSC news release here.