Air Platforms

Pentagon faces major cost increase on F-35 Block 4 modernisation

08 March 2018
The Pentagon is facing a major cost increase for its F-35 C2D2 modernisation, formerly known as Block 4. Source: Lockheed Martin

Key Points

  • The Pentagon is facing a major potential F-35 Block 4/C2D2 cost increase
  • This could add between USD6.9 billion and USD12.5 billion more to the Pentagon’s most expensive platform

The Pentagon is facing a cost increase for what was known as Block 4 modernisation of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) ranging between USD6.9 billion and USD12.5 billion, according to a key lawmaker and a Defense Department official.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) in August tabbed at over USD3.9 billion the research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) funding needed for F-35 Block 4 modernisation, now known as Continuous Capability Development and Delivery (C2D2), through fiscal year 2022 (FY 2022). During a 7 March 2018 House Armed Services (HASC) tactical air and land forces subcommittee hearing, F-35 program executive officer Admiral Mat Winter said C2D2 would cost USD10.8 billion through FY 2024.

Subcommittee Ranking Member Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts said the total cost for C2D2 could reach USD16.4 billion through FY 2024 – USD11 billion for development and USD5.4 billion in procurement. Tsongas believed this figure greatly exceeded any cost figures previously provided to Congress.

GAO said in August that Block 4 would be carried out in four increments – 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4. Block 4.1 is primarily software, as well as some new capabilities and correct deficiencies of nine capabilities carried over from the current development programme, such as the prognostics health management system down-link and communication capabilities. GAO said programme officials expected increments 4.1 and 4.3 to be primarily software updates while increments 4.2 and 4.4 would consist of more significant hardware changes.

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