US delays will raise F-35 fighter jet prices

US delays will raise F-35 fighter jet prices

US delays will raise F-35 fighter jet prices

An F-35 fighter jet sits on the tarmac at the Singapore Airshow last month. AFP photo

The Pentagon acknowledged on March 8 that a delay in U.S. orders for 179 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets would raise the cost of each new warplane in the short term, but said Lockheed still needed to keep driving down its production costs.

Navy Vice Admiral David Venlet, who heads the Pentagon’s F-35 program office, said he had briefed the eight international partners about the effect of the production slowdown, and they affirmed their commitment to the program at a meeting last week.

The Pentagon is postponing the orders to save $15.1 billion through fiscal year 2017, and allowing more time for development and testing, a move that has prompted its foreign partners to rethink their own orders.

Venlet declined to identify the scope of the expected cost increase, noting that further details would be released as part of a Pentagon report to Congress later this month.

He said the partner countries -- Britain, Australia, Canada, Italy, Turkey, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands – remained committed to the program, although some would likely postpone their own orders as a result of the U.S. move.