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Maintainers support an F-35A strike fighter at Eglin AFB, Fla., in a photo posted on Oct. 27, 2014. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.​

The Defense Department and Lockheed Martin have struck a deal on the Lot 8 buy of F-35 low-rate initial production jets, announced the company on Monday. While overall numbers have to wait while currency conversions are done for all the international partners, the unit cost “for all three variants of the airframe in LRIP 8 is approximately 3.6 percent lower than the previous contract,” states the company’s release. This continues the trend of decreasing unit costs. LRIP 8 will include 43 airplanes, including 29 aircraft for US service—19 F-35As for the Air Force, six F-35Bs and four F-35Cs—and 14 international F-35s. The latter group includes F-35As for Israel (two), Italy (two), Japan (four), Norway (two), and four F-35Bs for Britain. “We are making steady progress in reducing F-35 costs,” said Lockheed Martin F-35 General Manager Lorraine Martin. The company reiterated the goal of reducing F-35 unit costs “to the equivalent of today’s fourth generation fighters by the end of the decade.” Coupled with the 166 aircraft contracted for under LRIP Lots 1 through 7, the F-35 program will stand at 209 aircraft in use by eight nations when LRIP 8 is completed. F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said the deal is a sign of “the program’s ongoing maturation.”