They are reporting that it will cost $35,200 per flying hour for the F-35A CTOL (the most common variant). Or in other words, the annual take-home pay of many Americans.
Every hour. For no valid return in credible combat capability.
Curious because years ago, in order to generate interest with a gullible U.S. military and Congress, the then JSF program had to show how great the jet would be using less operations and sustainment dollars than existing strike-fighters.
A tall order.
A look back 10 years to the 2002 SAR offers some illumination. What did the sales-force do in order to convince everyone that the F-35 was cheap to operate for such incredible (imagined) capability? Their projections cut the manpower required to run an F-35A squadron by two-fifths compared to a USAF F-16 squadron. Not figured in was that a heavy aircraft with a really big engine would burn more fuel per hour.
The comparison also did not take into account that a stealth aircraft, with more complexity, would cost more to operate. Or, they figured it and decided it didn't count because the numbers were inconvenient to the cause.
Observe the 2002 F-35 SAR predictions for the F-35A cost per flying hour compared to the recent SAR reported by AOL Defense.
(click image to make larger)
$9145 per flying hour vs. $35,200 per flying hour. Even when counting in the FY2002 baseline dollars to today's money, that is a big difference.
On a different note, the 2002 SAR shows the Navy (including USMC) as ordering their last F-35 to complete the program of record by the year 2021. That would be 690 F-35B&C aircraft.
Also according to the 2002 SAR, the USAF F-35 program of record would have ordered their last jet for a total of 1763 in 2026.
The latest meme out there is that this will be a program of sustainment spanning over 50 years.
Early SARS also stressed that the F-35 program was to be "affordable" as a reason to exist.
With what we know now, we can see nothing in the F-35 program is affordable. There is also enough information available to challenge the assumptions by the faithful that the F-35 has combat worth.
The program has failed. It is time for some adult supervision to recognize this fact. This extravagant program must end.