Cost of the US F-35 fighter jet will rise and production will fall in the Lot 15 series manufacture after the United States ousted Turkey from the F-35 programme citing its refusal to back down from purchasing the Russian S-400 air defence system.
According to FY2021 US government budget document’s page 64, “Lot 15 (of F-35) has lower production quantity compared to Lot 14 due to reduction in partner (read Turkey) and foreign military sales overall quantity. As a result of removal of partner (Turkey) from F-35 program, supply chain sources have been transitioned to alternate production sources which will have higher pricing for those particular components.”
“These combined factors may challenge the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program Office’s ability to achieve lot over lot savings that are comparable to prior years,” the document said. With every successive manufacturing lot, the price of the F-35 has fallen and current benchmark price is the lowest ever.
Another factor that could see a rise in costs is that Lot 15 is also the initial production incorporation of hardware to support Block 4 capabilities intended to make the F-35 more lethal.
Turkey meanwhile has said it will continue to manufacture and supply F-35 parts and components to Lockheed Martin as a “goodwill gesture” till March 2020. It is also seeking a refund of $1 Billion spent to order F-35 jets, the first two of which have been withheld by the Pentagon.
While Turkey has been offered the Russian Su-57, Ankara has not made commitments about buying it. Instead Turkey is focusing on developing its own indigenous warplane. "I hope our warplane, which will be indigenous at every stage of design and production, will roll out of the hangar in 2023," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the opening ceremony for a new ammunition facility in the central Kirikkale province on February 5.