WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Over the next 55 years, the cost of developing, producing and maintaining the 5th generation fighter jet is projected at $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion.
"If the Block 4 [weapons upgrade] effort is not established as a separate acquisition program, transparency will be limited," the report explained. "Therefore, it will be difficult for Congress to hold it accountable for achieving its cost, schedule and performance requirements."
The dispute over accounting for the Block 4 featured prominently in a hearing on Tuesday by the US Senate Armed Services Committee.
GAO Acquisition and Sourcing Management Director Michael Sullivan replied that a similar weapons upgrade for F-22 fighter, estimated at $2 billion, quickly swelled to $11 billion because there was no accountability.
Since its inception, the F-35 jet has been beset with problems, including wings that crack, software that freezes, poor pilot visibility, faulty radar, ejection seats that do not work and a multitude of other problems.