The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, fifth generation multirole fighters under development to perform ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions with stealth capability. The F-35 has three main models; one is a conventional takeoff and landing variant, the second is a short take off and vertical-landing variant, and the third is a carrier-based variant. The United States intends to buy a total of 2,443 aircraft for an estimated US$323 billion, making it the most expensive defense program ever. The United States Air Force (USAF) budget data in 2010, along with other sources, projects the F-35 to have a flyaway cost from US$89 million to US$200 million over the planned production of F-35s. Cost estimates have risen to $382 billion for 2,443 aircraft, at an average of $156 million each. The rising program cost estimates have cast doubt on the actual number to be produced for the U.S. In January 2011, the F-35B variant was placed on "probation" for two years because of development problems. In February 2011, the Pentagon put a price of $207.6 million for each of the 32 aircraft to be acquired in FY2012, rising to $304.15 million ($9,732.8/32) if its share of RDT&E spending is included While the actual JSF development contract was signed on 16 November 1996, the contract for System Development and Demonstration (SDD) was awarded on 26 October 2001 to Lockheed Martin, whose X-35 beat the Boeing X-32. Although both aircraft met or exceeded requirements, the X-35 design was considered to have less risk and more growth potential Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia It has been 15 years since the original contract was Development was issued for this aircraft and 10 years since first flight. They are just now coming online with the some of the first production version joining the training wing at Eglin A.F.B. The F-35 has been a cash cow for Lockheed Martin and study in Govt. purchasing problems that have over the years added billions to our current budget problems. The aircraft was initially developed because it was believed that the F-22 was too costly and the F-35 would be a low cost version of that aircraft that would not only meet the needs of the service but also save money in that it would provide parts commonality across the services. One F-22A came out to be 187.5 million per aircraft, as as can be seen above we are not paying about that for the F-35A and twice that for the F-35B. When the so called Super Committee is looking for answers and are stuck on cutting vs. taxes perhaps another place they may want to look at is "efficiency" and HOW they spend the money we send them. It serves not purpose to cut departments or for that matter raise taxes if you do nothing to address the issues that caused them in the first place.