WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The Defense Department plans a new $3 billion Block 4 program over six years to improve the F-35’s capabilities. However, this program’s transparency is limited, so it will be difficult for Congress to hold it accountable for achieving its cost and performance on schedule, the GAO noted.
"The Department of Defense plans to begin increasing production and expects to spend more than $14 billion annually for nearly a decade on procurement of F-35 aircraft," the report stated on Thursday.
With estimated total acquisition costs of nearly $400 billion, the F-35 jet is the Defense Department's most costly and ambitious acquisition program, the GAO acknowledged. That estimate does not include the even more massive development costs.
"Currently, the program has around 20 percent of development testing remaining, including complex mission systems software testing, which will be challenging."