Public Defence Capability Plans (DCP) like the one updated recently (PDF) are specific and vague at the same time.
Take the AIR6000 F-35 New Air Combat Capability for Australia.
In the DCP the first 3 squadrons show an acquisition of around $10B for 72 aircraft.
Life of type for this platform is expected to be 30 years. Initial operating capability is expected to be 2019-2020--8-10 years late depending on which story you believe from 2002.
Through-life support will be provided by Lockheed Martin's Autonomic Logistics Global Sustainment (ALGS) system using a performance-based logistics approach. This system was mentioned as high-risk in a 2011 U.S. DOD audit.
The plan is to embed Australian industry in the JSF global supply and support chain for the life of the program under the LM's ‘best value’ industry model. ‘Best value’ is determined by the prime contractors through international competition.
Defence F-35 advocates have always wanted a 4th squadron bringing the total number of aircraft up to 100. Initial operating capability for this squadron is expected to be 2023-24.
To give you one illustration of the impact of repeat F-35 program delays over the years, in 2007 (PDF), it was expected that Australia would acquire 3 F-35 squadrons up to 2015 (delivery is usually 2 years after order) and all 100 would have been ordered by 2018.
The DCP expects that the 4th squadron, including more facilities and infrastructure improvement along with block upgrades, could cost $5-10B.
Another phase of the program expects to pay $500M-$1B on weapons.
This means that the new air combat capability for the F-35 (according to the DCP) could cost between $15.5B to $21B.
Yet, there is more.
This project though has another interesting over-spend attached to the Australian tax payer. That is $6.6B for the 24 Super Hornets, along with an additional projection of another $500M-$1B for Super Hornet and F-35 weapons.
Then there is the small handful of billions to upgrade the legacy Hornet fleet--again, because of delays to the F-35 program.
See where this is going? North of $30B.
The cost estimates coming out of Defence have always been fuzzy.
The bigger picture is the loss of Australian regional air supremacy.