The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is a so-called “joint” development program. Three military services, the Air Force, the Marine Corps, and the Navy will fly three distinct variants of the same airframe. This type of joint development is never cheap and only rarely even successful. (Anyone besides us remember the A-12?)
Remember that bit of budget arcana that the Department of the Navy pays for Marine Corps as well as Navy aircraft (which is an amazing deal for the Marines but a topic for another article in the future)? So if you add up all the aircraft procurement for the Air Force ($17.2 billion) and all the aircraft procurement for the Department of the Navy ($19.1 billion) you have a total of $36.3 billion for aircraft procurement for the Air Force, the Marines, and the Navy.
And of that $36.3 billion spread across a couple of dozen different aircraft, $10.6 billion is devoted just to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Almost one-third of that particular pie is being spent on one program.
More proof that the three services that fly tactical fighter jets are putting most of their eggs in the F-35 basket.