A newly released GAO report shows that the DOD's ability to report operations and sustainment (O&S) costs of major weapons systems is faulty.
Here is part of what the report had to say about the F-35:
"The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program office underreported the average cost per flying hour for the aircraft in the 2010 SAR. The average, steady-state O&S cost per flying hour was reported as $16,425 (fiscal year 2002 dollars). Program officials told us that the number of aircraft used in the estimate for the Air Force’s inventory was not accurate and the estimate also did not project for future cost growth above inflation. The estimate included approximately 528 extra aircraft that when calculating the average cost per flying hour, resulted in higher flight hours and lower average costs per hour. Further, according to the SAR, some of the F-35’s O&S costs were intentionally excluded from the estimate to enable comparison with the antecedent system, the F-16 C/D. Costs for support equipment replacement, modifications, and indirect costs were removed from the F-35’s cost per flying hour since they were not available for the F-16 C/D. Officials calculated that the revised cost per flying hour for the F-35 was $23,557 (fiscal year 2002 dollars), or 43 percent higher, after including the excluded costs, projecting for future cost growth above inflation, and correcting the number of aircraft. However, they noted that the total O&S life-cycle cost reported in the SAR for the F-35 was accurate because it was calculated separately from the average cost per flying hour."
By today's money, that is around $28786 per flying hour. Yet, we still do not have an operational go to war aircraft.
Back in 2010, NAVAIR had similar concerns over F-35 O&S costs.
Venlet (todays DOD F-35 program manager) was the boss of NAVAIR at the time.