A contract has been awarded supporting the procurement of long-lead items in support of F-35 low-rate initial production Lot 12.

Lockheed Martin recently received an earlier $1.377 billion contract for low-rate initial production of 130 Lot 12 F-35 Lightning II fighter planes. Most of the work for that contract will be done in Texas and California as well as the UK, with the rest spread among Florida, Maryland and Japan.

According to a contract notification on the Department of Defense website, the long lead items for this production lot have now been procured:

“United Technologies Corp., Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Connecticut, is being awarded a $19,266,207 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee and fixed-price-incentive-firm-target contract (N00019-15-C-0004).  

This modification provides for procurement of extra-long-lead items in support of the low-rate initial production Lot XII F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft production.  The extra-long-lead items include group hardware supporting the Lot XII delivery of conventional take-off and landing propulsion systems for the Air Force, Navy, non-Department of Defense (non-DoD) participants, and foreign military sales (FMS) customers, as well as group hardware supporting the Lot XII delivery of short take-off and vertical landing propulsion systems for the Marine Corps.  

Work will be performed in East Hartford, Connecticut (67 percent); Indianapolis, Indiana (26.5 percent); and Bristol, United Kingdom (6.5 percent), and is expected to be completed in November 2019.  Fiscal 2017 aircraft procurement (Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps), non-DoD participant, and FMS funds in the amount of $19,266,207, are being obligated on this award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  

This contract combines purchases for the Marine Corps ($16,961,563; 88.04 percent); non-DoD participants ($1,899,178; 9.86 percent); Air Force ($287,205; 1.49 percent); FMS ($78,841; 0.41 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales Program; and Navy ($39,420; 0.20 percent).  

The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.”


    • You know perfectly well that the £9bn is not just the cost of the aircraft, but also the cost of the support facilities for our future F-35 fleet including rebuilding at Marham. So that’s a non-story too.

      • I know perfectly well that the real cost of procuring the F35 for UK far exceeds the fly away cost often quoted.

        For example the fly away cost is often quoted at around £100m. So the procurement of 48 should be around £5bn.

        So the cost of upgrading Marham, spares, training, upgrades and miscellaneous items is what £4bn!!!

        I know it hurts to admit the truth but lets be honest on this issue. I fully support our involvement in the F35 project and procurement of 138 aircraft.

        Without honesty the UK defence problem will never be resolved.

    • In fairness Mike – this is not just for 48 F35’s – it is 48 F35’s plus spares, support, infrastructure etc.

      Its one of my pet hates with the MOD – the plane costs circa $122m each (Lot 10) so 48 aircraft is likely to cost in the region of $6bn with a further $6bn spent on R&D spares, training and infrastructure (which is clearly a lot).

      It may also be the case that these sunken costs set up the support structure for the whole 138 planes over the next 30 years at which point this is less of an issue. What is barking mad here is whilst they have a 10 year spend forecast (not a budget) they do not seem to have a
      depreciation timeline set against each asset that would explain these costs satisfactorily to the committe, as such you can understand why the MOD is in a mess.

      This is one of the reasons we can’t sell ships – Total cost of operation is different to cost of a vessel and my analysis of MOD accounts seem to support the fact that the cost of a product (a 10 year cost that is) often breaks down as 40% asset and 60% maintenance, training etc.
      You can see why prospective customers would be put off.

      Using this method I think we can assume that a T26 is likely to cost circa £600m to build, if this is the case then I think this is world class (dangerous to extrapolate I know – but we have to start somewhere).

      Interesting read – thanks for posting.

      • And when we order more F35s will need to order more spares, train more crews, convert more airbases.

        Or do think we all 138 F35 will operate from Marham? Or that we have ordered spares for 138 aircraft in advance? Or have trained sufficient pilots and ground crew by 2026 for those 138 aircraft.

        The UK is not alone in this all countries that have ordered the F35 face similar costs.

        Sorry but bull manure about how cheap the F35 is doesn’t wash with me

    • Thanks Mike for letting us know that the cost of buying a car is not the same as the running costs of the car.

      Be sure to post this again a dozen times next week!

  1. The unit cost of the aircraft will come down as production expands, but there’s no getting round the fact that this is an extremely expensive aircraft and we really don’t have a choice.

    It was quoted many years ago that such was the unit cost of an individual TSR2 ( had it gone ahead) the accidental loss of a single aircraft would have been a national tragically.

    Well, aircraft carrier aviation is dangerous, no getting around this and there will unfortunately be accidental losses over the years, the press will without doubt, get hysterical about every loss!

    Mike raises an interesting point re basing, as the numbers rise , Marham is going to get rather cosy. Its a big base, but is putting all your golden eggs in one basket a good idea?

    I do struggle to understand why countries like Canada, Norway and Holland would procure it, while perfectly good and considerably cheaper options exist. It will be interesting to see how many duck out.

    There really isn’t any point having a supremely capable Stealth Strike fighter, if you can’t afford enough to reach critical mass and struggle to pay the considerable support and ongoing upgrade costs.

  2. Mr Saul has certainly appears to have had a Road to Damascus moment with regard the F35 costs since he wrote “There have many articles on this website regards the cost of F35, the only conclusion one can draw from those articles is that the F35 will be cheaper to procure than a Typhoon.” That was after I was accused of “manipulating numbers to try and support your argument” when I was arguing the cost of the F35 was being suppressed and distorted and would rise while the Typhoon was falling significantly.

    In addition to the information he provides ( re Commons statement ) there was also a National Audit Office report, “Delivering Carrier Strike”( 16/3/17), which disclosed that £5.8 billion had been allocated to provide just 24 F-35B for delivery by 2021. The actual cost per aircraft is not disclosed. This equates to £241 million per aircraft.

    Let’s put this into perspective. 24 aircraft. £5.8 billion is nearly the cost of the two carriers.

    On 26 Jan 2017, the defence minister, Harriet Baldwin, in response to a question asked in Parliament about the unit cost for an F-35, in a written reply stated “I am withholding details of this funding as its disclosure would prejudice commercial interests.”

    Why is Lot 12 still Low Rate Production, for 130 aircraft. Could it be to provide a justification for an inflated cost. Is the cost for a fly away unit ?

    In addition to the worrying fog surrounding costs, the persistent reports that the F-35’s performance may not be matching the hype surely cannot be dismissed.

    I do not believe a single word that is released about the cost or performance of the F-35. Given the sheer number of negative reports about the F-35 I think it is foolhardy to abandon Typhoon development and accept all the glowing American reports. The RAF will tow the party line. The history of dealing with the American aviation industry urges extreme caution. Otherwise the UK may suddenly wake up one morning and find the remnants its industry has gone and a tiny available fleet of barely functioning aircraft.

    • Typhoon……………….10 years late. How much did that cost ?? Oohh, I know, it was conveniently written off.

      When the UK Government decided not to back the last chance UK industry had at developing its own advanced fighter aircraft via the EAP demonstrator programme then we kissed goodbye to the future, forever. Stop whinging about everything you read on the Tinterweb, everybody seems to be an expert via Google. As for the MoD (Ministry of Dysfunction), it would save the UK taxpayer a significant amount if they were simply disbanded, pretty sure they would not be missed !


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