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More bad news for F-35: upgrades billions of dollars over budget

The GAO found that the multi-service fighter jet is 8 years behind schedule and $165 billion over budget, overall.
Credit: U.S. Navy
Defense Department plans to spend $400 billion on 2,456 F-35's through 2046.

WASHINGTON — The F-35  is more than 8 years behind schedule and $165 billion over original cost expectations.

And that's not all, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

The GAO investigated the F-35's three year old "Block 4" hardware and software modernization effort, and discovered that it increased from $10.6 billion to $14.4 billion. 

"As the program progresses toward completing operational testing of the aircraft's baseline capabilities, it still faces risks," the report says.

"If you look at the F-35, although our number of F-35's have gone down over the years, what we're purchasing, our level of funding has not changed, and it's continually gone up, said Lt. Gen. David Nahom, U.S. Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff. "So it is concerning to us in the Air Force, of the increasing costs, especially the modernization as well as the OIS. The operations sustainment costs have not come down to the level we would like."

Pentagon leaders told the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical and Land Forces on Tuesday that they're fully aware of the F-35's skyrocketing costs.

"The F-35 fully deployed with the Block 4 is really the capability that the department needs in this portfolio," said Joseph Nogueira, Acting Director DOD Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation. "So the challenge becomes, how do we bring the costs down so we can deploy the F-35 as expected?"

Additionally, the Pentagon's testing office reported to Congress this week that the F-35 has 864 unresolved software and hardware deficiencies of varying severity.

The GAO also said Lockheed Martin is late on delivering 158 of the jets this year.