The news gets even better, as the Department of Defense's Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office lowered the operating and service estimate for the jet by $57.8 billion. It's not entirely clear how either of these drops will impact the per-unit cost of the new fighter.
Now admittedly, neither of those cost savings is particularly huge. Even saving $7.5 billion, acquisitions of jets for all three branches will still cost around $400 billion. It's a similar story on the operating-and-services side, where the nearly $58 billion in savings belies an overall estimate of $859 billion. But, savings are savings, however lofty the starting price.
"Affordability is the number one priority for the F-35 program and this year's report reflects another year with significant cost reductions, and we're not stopping there," Pentagon spokesman Joe DellaVedova told Jane's. "We will continue to drive costs out of the program."
"We are extremely pleased with the nearly $60 billion decrease in operations and support costs of the F-35 program during the last year alone," Lorraine Martin, the F-35's program manager, told Jane's. "This is a result of a laser focus by the entire government and contractor team on reducing costs across the board, whether it's improving quality in manufacturing, increasing supply chain delivery speed, or dramatically reducing concurrency items."