Here’s the difficulty: No one knows the price, not even the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin. From the outset, price estimates have been just that, because the unit cost depends, in any given year, on how many planes are built that year. If all nine of the original international partners — the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Turkey, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands — were following through on their orders, on the original timetable, Ottawa might still be able to buy 65 planes on budget (though even that has long been in dispute).
But that’s demonstrably not the case now. This week the Pentagon confirmed the U.S. military itself is trimming its order, due to spending cuts and technological problems. Though it insists it still plans to buy 2,443 of the jets in the decades ahead, it has postponed orders for 179 units over the next five years, garnering savings of $15.1-billion U.S.