The US Department of Defense (DoD) has lowered its procurement cost estimate for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter by almost 2%, it announced in this year’s annual report on weapons programmes.

The DoD says that it will now cost about USD391.1 billion to buy 2,457 of the stealthy combat aircraft that Lockheed Martin is producing for the US Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, as well as well as 12 international customers. The new price is a reduction of USD7.5 billion from last year’s estimate. The report attributes the drop primarily to “decreased contractor labour rates and lower subcontractor costs”.

However, the estimated cost of the programme’s research, development, test, and engineering (RDT&E) remained unchanged at USD54.9 billion and the cost of military construction on facilities (MILCON) increased by USD200 million to USD4.6 billion. […]