Massive Sustainment Costs Creating F-35 Affordability Issues

ARLINGTON, Va. — Sustaining the troubled Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II strike fighter over its expected 66-year service life will cost more than the total purchase price of thousands of the aircraft, the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons platform, a government watchdog told lawmakers.

The Defense Department plans to acquire nearly 2,500 F-35 aircraft for about $400 billion over the next five decades for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. However, the latest Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the nation’s biggest weapons program indicates the services will incur an additional $1.3 trillion in sustainment costs for maintenance, repairs and technology upgrades over that same period.

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