F-35 cost estimates increase in defense acquisition cost report

The Defense Department estimates its major acquisition programs are costing $1.6 trillion, slightly less than previously estimates.

The department reviewed 83 programs as part of its Selected Acquisition Report for the December 2011 reporting period. The SAR is released every quarter and DoD previously published a report in September 2011. The costs include all prior and future expected spending for large programs covered by SARs.

The report found three programs are in critical breach of the Nunn-McCurdy Act, which requires DoD to report to Congress any program cost overruns that exceed 25 percent of the current baseline estimate or 50 percent over the original baseline estimate. Those programs were AIM-9X Block I, C-130 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP), and Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS).

The Pentagon also found the F-35 program estimates increased since the last estimate. Program cost estimate increased by 3.3 percent for the F-35 aircraft and 9.7 percent for the engine. Ten years in, the total F-35 program cost has jumped from $233 billion to an estimated $385 billion, and some suggest the entire program could exceed $1 trillion over 50 years, The Associated Press reports.

Not all of the Pentagon’s programs experienced cost growth however. For example, DoD reported the costs for its battlefield networking system Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) fell by 10 percent to $14.5 billion after the Army restructured the program to use more off-the-shelf components. Other programs saw their unit costs fall because DoD either accelerated its buys in order to save money or cancelled programs entirely.

DoD has recently come under scrutiny for its method of compiling the SAR. The Government Accountability Office released a report in February 2012 that said DoD’s cost estimate reports were often “inconsistent and sometimes unreliable.”

This story is part of Federal News Radio’s daily DoD Report. For more defense news, click here.


GAO: ‘Inconsistent’ cost estimates plague DoD reports


Sign up for breaking news alerts