The US Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin (www.lockheedmartin.com
) have finalised an $11.5 billion contract for the production and delivery of 141 F-35 aircraft at the lowest ‘per aircraft’ price in the programme’s history — marking the eleventh consecutive year that the cost of an F-35A has been cut.
The unit price (including aircraft, engine and ‘fee’), is $89.2 million.
This represents a 5.4% reduction from the $94.3 million cost of an F-35A in Low-rate Initial Production Lot 10 (LRIP 10).
In LRIP 11, the F-35B unit cost was cut to $115.5 million, a 5.7% reduction from the $122.4 million it cost for the short take-off and landing variant in LRIP 10.
The F-35C unit cost was cut to $107.7 million, an 11.1% reduction from the $121.2 million it cost for the carrier variant in LRIP 10.
The LRIP 11 agreement funds 91 aircraft for the US Services, 28 for F-35 international partners and 22 for F-35 foreign military sales customers. Deliveries will begin in 2019.
Admiral Mat Winter, F-35 programme executive officer, said: “Driving down cost is critical to the success of this programme.
“This agreement for the next lot of F-35s represents a fair deal for the US Government, our international partnerships and industry. We remain focused on aggressively reducing F-35 cost and delivering best value.”
The latest deal is seen as a demonstration of the programme’s progress and maturity, as industry and the government now set their sights on future acquisition approaches for the next three production lots to further reduce costs.
There are more than 320 F-35 aircraft operating from 15 bases around the world; moreover, some 680 pilots and 6,200 ‘maintainers’ have been trained.
The F-35 fleet has now exceeded the 155,000 cumulative flight hours mark.
With more than 1,500 suppliers in 46 states and Puerto Rico, the F-35 programme supports more than 194,000 direct and indirect jobs in the USA alone; it also includes more than 100 international suppliers.