At a total of 79 airframes and with a total procurement and advanced procurement cost of $9.8 billion across three military services, the F-35 continues to blow a hole in the service budgets for aircraft procurement.
Starting with the Air Force, the entire aircraft procurement budget for that service for every type of fixed wing and rotary aircraft is $18.4 billion. That’s all in. And of that total, $5.9 billion (almost a third) is for the F-35.
The Department of the Navy contains two military services, the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps. And within that structure the department oversees and pays for both Navy and Marine Corps aircraft procurement. The total aircraft procurement budget, therefore, is paid from the “Aircraft Procurement, Navy (AP,N)” budget line. The FY21 budget request for AP,N is a total of $17.1 billion. And of that, $3.9 billion is for the two different versions of the F-35 flown by the two services. That’s a more modest 23% of the total the Department of the Navy has available to purchase all of its aircraft.
And that’s just Procurement. The portion of the military service’s budget that will be spent on long-term sustainment of the F-35 is massive and, well, unsustainable. It’s past time for a reckoning on how much this single program is costing the Pentagon.