Lockheed has offered a new price for its most affordable version of the plane, the F-35A, to the Pentagon. It is planning to sell them for less than $80 million each if the US Defense Department buys 100 jets, the news outlet Defense One reported. The initial price of the fighter was $89.5 million under a deal inked last September. In 2017 Lockheed was selling the jets for $94.6 million each.
The Pentagon is also planning to buy a new version of Boeing's F-15 Eagle fighters, the F-15EX, to promote industrial diversity and try to maintain a balance between the nation's two largest defence companies, according to DoD officials.
Investigative reporter and founder of "This Can't Be Happening!", Dave Lindorff, told Sputnik that the real cost of production of Lockheed or Boeing planes is nowhere near the asking price.
“This is a perfect example of why the US has the most expensive military the world has ever known. It's what the late Seymour Melman, a Columbia University industrial engineer and long-time critic of the US military, called "Pentagon capitalism" where sole-source arms makers like Lockheed and Boeing negotiate cost-plus contracts that guarantee them a handsome profit regardless of the inevitable cost overruns as a multi-year or sometimes multi-decade weapons system goes from design to testing to production. The result is that the price of a weapon has little, if nothing, to do with the actual cost of its production”.
“In the case of the F-35A, the plane has evolved from a fighter jet to a first-strike stealth bomber reconfigured in its Block 4 version, to which all the Air Force's planes are slated to be upgraded, so it can carry two variable-power B-61 nuclear bombs”, the expert said.
The investigative journalist also stressed that if Lockheed is able to slash the price by $10 million per plane it only proves that costs are set artificially.
“The fact that, under pressure from the Pentagon, which is now threatening to start cutting its F-35A order and replacing it with an upgraded version of the older F-15 made by Boeing, Lockheed is suddenly offering to cut the F-35's price by 10 percent shows how artificially high its current price really is”.
The F-35 programme is known as America's most expensive weapons system but it's been plagued by reliability issues and criticised by Trump ever since he was elected president and promised to save billions of dollars on military purchases.
“The US taxpayer, as always, is being taken for a ride by the US arms industry, and for a weapon that really has no need at all, except for purposes of nuclear blackmail. The irony is that the cost of such a plan, close to $1.5 trillion over the life of the F-35, is actually a threat to the US economy, because of its enormous burden on the taxpaying public”. the expert concluded.
Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Dave Lindorff and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.