Pentagon Concludes "Should Cost" Review of F-35

October 31, 2011

The Defense Department on Monday said it had finished an initial review of what the next batch of F-35 fighter jets should cost, and would brief the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin Corp, shortly.

Completion of the so-called "should cost" review will pave the way for the start of formal negotiations about a fifth batch of 30 F-35 or Joint Strike Fighter warplanes.

The F-35 program remains under tough scrutiny. It is the largest U.S. weapons program and has already seen costs rise sharply over the past 10 years -- making it a prime target for future cuts as defense officials brace for up to $1 trillion in defense spending cuts over the next decade.

Officials estimate it will cost $382 billion to develop and build 2,447 of the radar-evading fighter jets for the U.S. military, but Pentagon officials have said they intend cut that projected cost sharply through tough cost-cutting measures.

Shay Assad, the Pentagon's new director of defense pricing, was due to brief F-35 program officials on Monday about his lengthy review of overhead and other manufacturing costs, followed by a meeting with Lockheed on Tuesday, according to sources familiar with the Joint Strike Fighter program. 

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