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Lockheed Martin is peddling untruths about the relative cost of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the Super Hornet, according to Boeing Military Aircraft president Chris Chadwick. In a Tuesday morning teleconference, Chadwick not only called Lockheed Martin's claims "fundamentally untrue" but named business development vice-president Steve O'Bryan as the source, and the fact that the claims were denied formally also points to a developing war between the two programs.The offending statement, quoted in Air Force Magazine's Daily Report last week (here, search for May 26), claimed that a fully operational F-16E or F/A-18E would be "the same cost" as an F-35 at maturity, around $65 million in 2010 dollars. Not so, Chadwick says, claiming a comparable (recurring flyaway) cost of $53 million for a Super Hornet -- including a set of external tanks, an ATFLIR targeting pod and "working" helmet mounted displays.Any F-35 cost figure, Chadwick pointed out, "is an estimate based on numbers of unsold aircraft." Moreover, Chadwick added, current figures show that the JSF -- even in its F-35A variant -- will cost more to operate than the Super Hornet. Citing a $16,400 cost-per-hour F-35A estimate (in 2002 dollars) in the latest Selected Acquisition Report, Chadwick says that a comparable number for the Super Hornet is $12,200 -- less than either the F/A-18C/D or the F-16C/D.It's the operational costs that are beginning to worry customers, since as recently as 2007 Lockheed Martin was claiming that F-35A operating costs would be lower than those of the aircraft it is replacing. And while Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon have declared a goal of reducing acquisition and operating costs (which are linked to some extent by spares costs) through "should cost" disciplines, Chadwick notes that "for Boeing, affordability is not a stretch goal" and that the Super Hornet is "still the only modern fighter program which has had a negative cost curve combined with increased capability."Finally, Chadwick added: "The Super Hornet speaks for itself on cost and delivery" -- the company says that every aircraft has been delivered on cost, and on or ahead of schedule -- "and the F-35 speaks for itself too."
ar99, tacair, jsf, super-hornet
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