Dang, I leave for a week and you all have so much fun without me
We all know that one of the main drivers of increased production costs over the last few years is that they keep cutting the numbers from each year. If they would leave the numbers alone, the costs will stabilize.
What cannot be denied is that in EVERY LRIP buy so far, the final cost (2 years after FY Authorization) has always been lower than what was estimated at the time the F-35s were authorized.
Just to set the stage, the latest FY2011 budget shows that the USAF will need much less than 12 billion to hit the 80 airframes per month.
Take a look at the projected FY2015 (the last LRIP Cycle Year). It calls for 70 F-35As for a TOTAL procurement cost, including spares, of $7.4 billion. Extrapolate that to 80 airframes and it totals $8.47 billion (add %14.29 to go from 70 to 80). Even for LRIP prices this is well below $12 billion.
"The early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese."