F-35 update:http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htproc/articles/20140202.as...The U.S. Department of Defense is being accused of deception for refusing to admit the true cost of the new F-35 in the face of growing cuts in the military budget. Despite these cuts the Department of Defense will not change the number of F-35s ordered nor the unit cost that should be increased becasue of these cuts. Something has to give.The U.S. Air Force still expects to get production models of its 31 ton F-35A in late 2016. This is the cheapest version, costing about $159 million each. The U.S. Navy version (the F-35C) will arrive in late 2019 and cost about $264 million each.Meanwhile there are the seemingly endless delays.the increasing costs of theF-35 are scaring off foreign buyers. These users have noted that the F-35 costs 60 percent more (than the F-16, per flight hour) to operate. For European nations, with static or shrinking defense budgets and growing demands to help with peacekeeping operations, more expensive (to buy and operate) jet fighters just don’t fit in.Initially the F-35 operating costs were supposed to be the same or lower than other fighters (like the F-16, F-15, or F-18). But then it was noted that those operating costs were creeping upwards. In 2011 the U.S. Air Force came around to agreeing with U.S. Navy claims that the F-35 will cost much more to maintain, rather than (as the F-35 promoters insisted) less.At that time  it costs the navy, on average, $19,000 an hour to operate its AV-8 vertical takeoff or F-18C fighter aircraft. The navy calculated that it would cost 63 percent more to operate the F-35C (which will replace the F-18C) and the F-35B (which will replace the AV-8).Like the F-22, which had production capped at less than 200 aircraft, the capabilities, as superior as they are, may not justify the much higher costs. The F-35, at least for the navy, is headed in the same direction. The navy can go ahead with the more recent F-18E and keep refurbishing, or even building, the AV-8. The navy recently began examining the possibility of buying fewer F-35s, in the long run, and replacing them with combat UAVs, like the X-47B. Politics, and lobbying by the F-35 manufacturer, will probably keep the F-35 headed for fleet service, no matter what the cost.The success of smart bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan has also made it clear that fewer aircraft will be needed in the future.
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