|The Air Force is close to certifying that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is ready for combat, a declaration that would represent the most significant milestone in the long and tortured history of the Pentagon's most expensive weapons program. After years of delays, cost overruns and controversy, top Pentagon officials could make the decision as early as next week, some 15 years after the program began.|
For years, the $400 billion program suffered a series of major problems, and the F-35 was derided as "the plane that ate the Pentagon."
|About 180 of the aircraft have been delivered by Lockheed Martin, the world's largest defense contractor. |
The Pentagon had plans to buy another 2,263. A single Air Force F-35A costs $148 million. A Marine Corps F-35B costs $251 million. A lone Navy F-35C costs $337 million. Average the three models together, and a “generic” F-35 costs something around $178 million. This is at least 3 times the cost of a Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.