Issue Briefs

Why We Know F-35 Support Costs Will Fall In The Future (From Forbes)

Why We Know F-35 Support Costs Will Fall In The Future (From Forbes)

Loren B. Thompson

July 20th, 2021

The Government Accountability Office put out a report earlier this month purporting to show that the F-35 fighter costs more to operate and sustain than U.S. military services can afford to pay. Somehow, though, the report failed to mention that F-35 is already more reliable and maintainable than the aircraft it will be replacing–not to mention more effective at executing key missions. This is just the latest in a long series of GAO products criticizing the most successful military aircraft development program in modern times, and like past such efforts it is destined to be proven wrong. Over time current supply chain issues will be resolved, the proficiency of military maintainers will improve, data will be more effectively utilized, costs will be better captured, and the Pentagon will learn the virtues of performance-based logistics. In other words, the affordability problems F-35 appears to be facing will gradually be ameliorated. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.

The views and opinions expressed in this issue brief are those of the author.

Loren B. Thompson is a Senior Adviser at GPI, Chief Operating Officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute and Chief Executive Officer of Source Associates, a for-profit consultancy. Prior to holding his present positions, he was Deputy Director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University and taught graduate-level courses in strategy, technology and media affairs at Georgetown. He has also taught at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Thompson holds doctoral and masters degrees in government from Georgetown University and a bachelor of science degree in political science from Northeastern University.