The Insanely Expensive F-35 Is Delayed Again, For Australia Too

The Insanely Expensive F-35 Is Delayed Again, For Australia Too

A United States Government report reveals that the F-35 will be delayed yet again. This time, the problem is stalled software development. It’s just the latest in a long line of delays and problems. Australia’s F-35 order, for at least 14 jets, is looking more and more like throwing money into the wind.

Australia might take as many as 72 F-35s, if they ever reach a final production stage. With total acquisition costs up around $US400 billion, the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is the most expensive Department of Defence project ever. Everything has gone wrong in its development. It’s been grounded, delayed, and it costs a lot more than the DOD would have ever agreed to pay in the first place.

Ars Technica points us to a new GAO report indicating that the F-35 will not will probably not be ready for fighting in July 2015, as anticipated. The problem this time? The software keeps getting delivered late, and when it is delivered, it doesn’t work.

Challenges in development and testing of mission systems software continued through 2013, due largely to delays in software delivery, limited capability in the software when delivered, and the need to fix problems and retest multiple software versions.

So the F-35 is going to be at least year late, and of course, it’s going to cost even more money…

To execute the program as planned, the Department of Defence (DOD) will have to increase funds steeply over the next 5 years and sustain an average of $US12.6 billion per year through 2037; for several years, funding requirements will peak at around $US15 billion. Annual funding of this magnitude clearly poses long-term affordability risks given the current fiscal environment.

…which the GAO and DOD both point out is gonna be tough impossible to pay for:

Additionally, the most recent cost estimate for operating and supporting the F-35 fleet is more than $US1 trillion, which DOD officials have deemed unaffordable

The problem? Poor planning from the very beginning. And who knows if this plane will ever fly a combat mission. If nothing else, it’s a good reminder that things always take longer and cost more than we think they will. [Ars Technica via GAO]