"Reduce either flights or aircraft": in the United States worried about the growing costs of F-35 fighters
Sooner or later, the US Air Force will not be able to cope with financing the operation and maintenance of the fifth generation F-35 aircraft. Defense News author Valerie Insinna is convinced of this, having analyzed the existing Air Force policy towards F-35 fighters. As the American observer writes, if the costs become too large, the Air Force command will have to make a choice - either to reduce the purchase of aircraft, or to reduce the number of flight hours.
Difficulties may come as early as the next decade: by 2036, the US military is expected to find it difficult to maintain the operation of F-35 fighters, unless the cost of the tail unit is reduced. According to Insinna, the cost of the tail unit per year is an indicator by which the Pentagon analyzes the scale of the cost of annual maintenance of one aircraft.
In 2036, the gap between the actual cost of maintaining the F-35 and the actual capabilities of the US Department of Defense will be $ 6 billion. Of these, $ 4,4 billion will fall within the purview of the Air Force, which plans to purchase a record number of fifth-generation fighters by this time. The number of planned purchases is impressive: the Air Force is talking about the acquisition of 1763 F-35A aircraft.
Meanwhile, the US Air Force argues that if maintenance costs do not decrease, the service will have to reduce the number of F-35A aircraft planned for acquisition. The Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, General S.K.Brown, recently spoke of the likelihood of a reduction in the F-35A procurement program and the acquisition of cheaper aircraft.
The total amount of the F-35 program is also impressive: Valerie Insinna writes that the fifth generation fighter jet will cost US taxpayers a total of $ 1,7 trillion over the entire life cycle of the program. At the same time, the costs of maintenance, fuel and training ammunition, auxiliary equipment, and personnel training are very large-scale. They are estimated at $ 1,3 trillion. This figure is already $ 150 billion higher than the one that was named in 2012, when the program was drawn up in its modern form.
The Air Force is not alone in having financial problems. For example, the Marine Corps, which uses both the short takeoff and landing F-35B and the F-35C version, risks spending $ 900 million more than its actual financial capabilities.
The U.S. Navy also risks being down $ 655 million by 2036. The military claims that even if they got spare parts for the plane free of charge, all the same, the costs of maintaining the F-35 would be 14% higher than the amounts that they have.
The ways of solving the problem, which are proposed at the Pentagon, do not inspire much confidence so far. For example, the military department proposes to transfer maintenance performed by contractors to military personnel. But this is unlikely to allow large savings. In addition, the military is putting pressure on Lockheed Martin, claiming that it can reduce the cost of maintaining the F-35 by making it cheaper to operate.
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- Twitter / Official Account of the USAF
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