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10:43 PM, December 5, 2017
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F-35 fighter jet (Image: Lockheed Martin)

The US Department of Defense has taken actions to reduce F-35 fighter sustainment costs, but the estimated life cycle costs have increased and are not fully transparent to the military services, the Government Accountability Office has stated in its October 2017 report.

According to the GAO report published October 30 this year, the services do not fully understand how the costs they are being charged by the F-35 program office are linked to the capabilities they are receiving.

The program office cites unexplained cost increases and difficulty in tracking their requirements to contracts. For instance, the US Marine Corps received an initial funding requirement for fiscal year 2017 sustainment of $293 million, which then increased to $364 million in the execution year, the report stated.

This lack of transparency is due in part to insufficient communication between the program office and the services, and it puts the services in a difficult position as they consider critical trade-offs that may make F-35 sustainment more affordable. Without improving communication with the services about the costs they are being charged, the services may not be able to effectively budget for long-term sustainment, the GOA report concluded.

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