Costliest Jet, Years in Making, Sees the Enemy: Budget Cuts
With all the delays — full production is not expected until 2019 — the military has spent billions to extend the lives of older fighters and buy more of them to fill the gap. At the same time, the cost to build each F-35 has risen to an average of $137 million from $69 million in 2001.
The jets would cost taxpayers $396 billion, including research and development, if the Pentagon sticks to its plan to build 2,443 by the late 2030s. That would be nearly four times as much as any other weapons system and two-thirds of the $589 billion the United States has spent on the war in Afghanistan. The military is also desperately trying to figure out how to reduce the long-term costs of operating the planes, now projected at $1.1 trillion.