Lockheed Martin has received a $368.2 million contract to produce five F-35As and an F-35B for Italy.

The contract covers production lot 14 fighter jets along with associated gear and provides authorisation for common capability work at a Cameri, Italy-based final assembly and checkout facility, the Department of Defense said Thursday.

“Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is awarded a $368,194,942 not-to-exceed, undefinitized contract modification (P00036) to previously awarded fixed-price-incentive-firm-target, firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract N00019-17-C-0001. This modification provides for the procurement of five F-35A Lightning II lot 14 aircraft, one F-35B lot 14 combat aircrafts and associated red gear for the government of Italy. It also authorizes the common capability scope of work at the Final Assembly and Checkout Facility in Cameri, Italy.

Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas (35%); Cameri, Italy (28%); El Segundo, California (15%); Warton, United Kingdom (8%); Orlando, Florida (4%); Nashua, New Hampshire (3%); Baltimore, Maryland (3%); San Diego, California (2%); various locations within the continental U.S. (1.3%) and various locations outside the continental U.S. (0.7%). Work is expected to be complete by June 2023. Non-Department of Defense funds for $184,429,857 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.”

Italy’s Cavour aircraft carrier recently completed a two-year modernisation to accommodate F-35B jets while Italy plans to buy a total of 90 jets.
The country has taken delivery of 15 F-35 aircraft including 12 F-35As and three F-35Bs.
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4thwatch

UK 8% does this mean we are being sidelined as a founding partner of F35 project? Italy now have 30 a/c in operation or on order. We seem to be going slow on our orders.

T.S

And Italy 28%, how did they pull that one?

4thwatch

My thoughts exactly.
The MOD needs to get its act together and work with industry to do everything to boost our share in projects. We seem to be permanently falling behind with Spain, Italy and as always France getting their foot in the door ahead of us.
Its a lack of strategic thinking and timidity in defence procurement.

Nicholas

The MoD, if by that you mean the civil servants and the various military personnel and service providers attached to it, cannot do what you want. Such things are the responsibility of the minister for defence and his junior ministers, the FO and others. Issues of policy are government issues, the civil servants carry out the policy.

James

Its because they manufacture their F35s and certain European nations orders at cameri but we produce certain the parts for every F35, wherever its finally put together.

Cam

And italy also have a repair base also don’t they?

Dern

I’d suspect because we make 8% of the parts but the assembly will be done in Italy.

AlexS

Italy has the only assembly line in Europe.

It has also: U.S. Government selected the FACO in Cameri to be the European Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul and Upgrade Center of Excellence.

AlexS

It is probably due to what side is willing to invest.

AlexS
julian1

UK has committed to 48 jets, but only 35 are actually ordered. That means the remaining 13 of the initial commitment are awaiting order, whilst 15 are delivered with 3 more being delivered this year. I’m not sure we’re slowing down, but neither are we speeding up. It seems madness to me to be sailing to Asian waters next year without backing up our aspiration with firm orders to achieve critical mass. Why oh why do they make these foreign policy statements without the resources in place?

Steve

The buy rate is insanely low, if the carriers had not been massively delayed we would have had multiple years without any jets and now we are having to rely on the US to make the carriers not look like giant white elephants with a half dozen planes on them

Steve

Even the talk of the two squadrons is a bit silly with so few jets per squadron.

Glass Half Full

USN squadron size for F35C is 10x, for F-18 its 12x.

Glass Half Full

We gave up early production slots to the USMC. We want Batch 4 versions to support our preferred weapons, buying more early just adds extra cost to update later.

Cam

Exactly, later we buy better the Jet in theory.

Glass Half Full

There has to be an international political context though to speeding up purchases of F35B … or anything else on the military’s wish list. Do we think that the relations with Russia and/or China have already degraded, or that they are likely to in the near future, to such an extent that war is imminent? Are either country likely to be so confident of their capabilities they think they could win a conventional war in the next decade? Or that the UK sending a carrier to Asia is going to precipitate an act of war against it? We shouldn’t be… Read more »

Steve

The question is will see see the next war coming far enough ahead to get these jets built?

All very fine if it was a new increased capability, but realistically its just replacing the harriers that were cut and so is a capability we need rather than one we would like.

Glass Half Full

We are ramping a deterrence capability in the CSG. Harriers wouldn’t deter any peer adversary today, and wouldn’t have done so over the last decade either. We are also not alone, we have allies, also ramping capability.

Steve

The carriers really aren’t a real deterrence to anyone, as they highlight how paper thin our capability are, and have made things worse (cuts because of the cost) The only way carriers are a deterrence, is if they really look impressive as part of a carrier strike group, which requires escorts and jets that we just dont’ have (US carriers look impressive as they are lined with jets on deck and a half dozen odd escorts), and we don’t have it because our assets are thinly spread all over the globe. A carrier with 1 escort and half a dozen… Read more »

AlexS

They are to Argentinians 🙂

Steve

In an isolated conflict, where most of their forces were elsewhere deployed. If they hadnt pulled their navy and most of their heavy gear back before the task force arrived history would be very different. Chile did us a massive favour there, as confirmed by Maggy. Argentina isn’t scared of us or they wouldn’t spend all their time trying to get the world to agree to their ownership of the Falklands. Yes they can’t take the Falklands, but could we really take them on one on one, not sure. They just don’t have a force that could make it to… Read more »

Glass Half Full

You think the Argentinians could take and hold the Falklands without controlling the air?

Gunbuster

The idea is we use an air bridge.
The typhoons and air defence assets at MPA provide a secure air link to the UK for a period long enough to get reinforcements in place so we dont have to retake them because they would not be captured in the first place.

With MPA the FI can be reinforced in 24hrs with equipment and personnel whilst the RN sorts out ships and subs to send down south.

Airborne

Steve the two reasons the argie navy pulled our was the due to the fact they were totally aware we had the nuke boats, SSNs in the area and the fact they sunk the Belgrano. The carrier group to the North, turned about after the Belgrano was sunk, which was leading the southern part of the flanking movement towards our carrier group. And you are correct the argies arent scared of us, but know full well there forces are in such a shit state they couldn’t take a bath! But you are correct in your other post in regard to… Read more »

Glass Half Full

OK Steve now I know your trolling. Starting with your last point, which nation are you expecting the UK to fight on a one for one basis? What scenario do you see where that would be the case? Regarding the carrier – “The only way carriers are a deterrence, is if they really look impressive as part of a carrier strike group” – seriously? If all the UK had to offer was the carrier, with all the escorts and jets coming from allies then it would still be a NATO deterrence. “A carrier with 1 escort and half a dozen… Read more »

Steve

I’m not trolling. Don’t forget the british armed forces were over 3 times the size on the 80s and still only just won the Falklands. Anyone that has studied the conflict knows that we got lucky on multiple occasions. An SSN is a huge deterrence because it can be anywhere in the world and carries enough fire power to level multiple cities. The US carrier taskforce is a huge deterence as it has more jets alone that most countries have total and it’s ready for combat at a moment’s notice. The way the UK is approaching it means that they… Read more »

Steve

And by the way where were NATO or our allies during the falklands, where were the ships that would now rely on to escort our carriers. The only one that was willing to support us was New Zealand and don’t give me the rubbish of the US offering us a carrier as they knew we couldn’t accept it as our sailors had no experience in operating it and they knew it.

Glass Half Full

We didn’t ask for direct NATO assistance. We had useful indirect assistance. And again what is the relevance of the Falklands to today.

Steve

It was late i mixed up SSN and SSBN, but equally SSN provide similar level of deterrence as they can be anywhere and therefore if you can’t track them you have to assume they are there which makes them provide a much bigger deterrence then their real numbers. With so few of them, if you knew where they were they would provide almost no deterrence, as is the problem with the small size of our navy and it being stretched globally. Unfortunately we couldn’t ask for NATO as the south atlantic is outside the scope of NATO. I agree we… Read more »

Trevor

You are i am afraid quite ignorant of the issues you are trying to covet

Glass Half Full

I’m pretty sure you are trolling, but to indulge you.

What relevance does the Falklands have to today? BTW SSN is a nuclear attack sub, you are thinking of SSBN. The latter won’t be escorting anything.

We are not debating US carrier task force deterrence. I am also not equating the deterrence of a UK CSG to that of the USN.

Have no idea what this means “… it’s clear they would need to withdraw and regroup prior to being able fight.”

Rocket Banana

“technological advantage is massively overtaken by the oppositions numbers” – couldn’t agree more

Steve

Yes and no. If you look at most wars post ww2 and one side had a massive technological advantage that was generally nullified when it came to ground warfare part, that could be Vietnam or afgan. Raw numbers still counts for a lot.

Trevor

The carrier will have more than 6 planes and 1 escort. You are just rabbiting on in total nonsense.

All F35s have about 15% UK content. That’s all of them. This deal seems more about final assembly in Italy.

Given the slow development of the F35, it seems a good idea that we are not racing into ordering too quickly.

Steve

They won’t have 6, they are planned to have 12 normally and sometimes 24. 12 jets and one or two escorts does not make a taskforce, that would put fear into an opponent.

In a war situation yes we could surge more planes onto them and pull escorts from elsewhere, but peace times this will be it, and peacetimes is where a deterence matters, war the deterence has already failed

Just look at the at sea figures published recently on this site for the frigates/destroyers numbers and it’s clear beyond the first deployment we can’t maintain more than that.

Cam

What? “carriers aren’t a deterrent” your clueless if you think that M8. Even A British naval task force consisting of british destroyers, frigates and a nuclear submarines and maybe air platforms like the RAFs new p8s and voyager refuelling planes to increase the range of the carriers f35b jets. That battle group sitting offshore any nation will be a huge deterrent! And even with just a couple F35 squadrons Onboard for strike missions That’s a huge capability no other nation bar USA posses, and That’s a threat to any nation on earth including USA the only world superpower

Cam

The UK has committed to 138 orders

Andy

I am not sure I believe these numbers, $368 million for 6 F-35’s? That’s around $60m each. If that’s the case we should accelerate our buy rate.

Is this another example of increasing defense spending, post covid?

Steve

I suspect it’s Italy getting in firm orders now before they have to beg for help from the rest of Europe, after the true impact on their already damaged economy comes out, as we know from Greece big cuts will be required if money is released. I really don’t see how Italy is going to recover from covid, as they were already on the verge of failure before it. If they do somehow survive for sure they won’t be increasing their defense spending nor will any country

Bill

Cheap as chips. UK probably paying top dollar as per usual. Wow, that special relationship is something special! After all, we’re only a tier1 partner having ‘invested’ $2.3bn while Italy gets its own production line. Italy, Australia, Norway, all will have orders fulfilled long before we have. As stated many times on this forum, the procurement rate was set so low by the previous tory useless government that we could NEVER send one carrier out with a full complement. And yet people were jumping up and down citing these two monoliths as the UK’s return to the ‘projection of power’… Read more »

Nicholas

With only air to air and Paveway available these jets are very short on striking power.

Nicholas

Oops wrong new item.

Cam

Nice, a mix of F35 jets, should the UK be doing so?, F35a to replace tornado?. I would prefer the Royal Navy to have the B and RAF to have the A but that won’t happen….and we would need to spend a few quid at a naval air base to house the F35s maybe at Culdrose? where the aggressor squadrons based as we can’t base all our F35s at Marham at once can we? even if we don’t have all the 138 jets at one time and maybe just 85 odd at full strength. But Shouldn’t We have a Royal… Read more »

Glass Half Full

The UK always refers to the 138 jets as being over the lifetime of the program and its easy to see the F35 family having a 50-60 year use life across all customers, with a 30-40 year production life. For example, Tornado will have had a 20 year production and 50 year use life by the time the Germans are done, Harrier with 30 year production and 60 year use life and the F-16, the poster child for longevity, with 40+ year production life and likely to hit 70 year use life with new modern variants still being sold today.… Read more »

Rob

Exactly. We will never have more than 69 (half the total order) at any one time, which enables us to field 4 squadrons of 12, with one of those being the OCU. We were never going to operate both carriers at once unless there was dire need. In peacetime they can sail with 12, 24 or 36 UK F35Bs depending on the task and threat level. If we had to I’m sure we could surge 24 on each, plus helos, or even a few more if the need arises. A fully formed CBG with 2 x T45s, 2 x T23/T26,… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Neither do I Rob. I think people expected both QEC to have airwings.
We’ve not the Merlins for starters.

There are many areas of concern, the QEC for me is not one of them.

Glass Half Full

Agreed Rob. And if there was a dire need for both to surge then it would almost certainly be such a dire situation that F35B numbers would be augmented by USMC aircraft since it would be in US interests to do so.

r cummings

The full buy of 138 lightnings will yield 6 squadrons, not 4. To get 12 front line aircraft, you need 24 in total (3 squadron reserve, 3 war reserve, 1.5 attrition reserve, 2.75 OCU, plus one for OEU or wingco). 138 aircraft works out at 23 per squadron, slightly less than Typhoon or Tornado due to the F-35 pilots doing more training on simulators and needing a third fewer aircraft. I think we currently have 18 aircraft, not 19, which will increase to 20 this year. With 3 permanently based in the USA on trials and tests, 3 reputedly in… Read more »

Glass Half Full

Regarding your model for front line F-35Bs, its going to be interesting to see how Italy manages their F-35Bs then, as their Navy and Air Force only get 15 each based on current plans. Whether the RAF surges aircraft for a second carrier or not is likely to be subject to a much larger NATO perspective of what capability is required where. The USMC F35Bs are a useful backstop for NATO though wrt carrier ops. What’s certain is that the RAF certainly won’t be able to surge to support carrier ops if they have F35As. Fortunately there will be quite… Read more »

r cummings

No mystery about the Italian F-35 squadrons, they will field 2 squadrons of 13 aircraft, of which 8 are front line, plus an OCU of 4. Exactly the same model as our own squadrons, just smaller. There seems to be a school of thought that the carrier and its strike group is the big game in town, to which all must be subservient. The reality is that the nation’s principal offensive air capability lies and will continue to lie with the RAF, whether out of area in places like Afghanistan and Syria or potential pèer conflicts with Russia or whoever.… Read more »

Glass Half Full

Indeed perhaps only 8 F35B front line aircraft for the Italian Navy but I had understood the intent had been closer to double that for Cavour in a full carrier role (albeit the current commitment of 15 wouldn’t be enough to get them there regardless of models), and probably the same for Trieste to maintain a continuous carrier capability. I don’t get the sense that the Italian Air Force wants to go to sea (but could be wrong about that), perhaps the USMC will prefer Italian cuisine over British and help them out instead … or as well as. I… Read more »

r cummings

By ‘having the flexibility to make (the carrier air group) larger’, this sounds like the RAF must operate the B version so that it can reinforce the carrier. That would be the tail wagging the dog. The RAF had 10 interdiction/attack squadrons before HMG cut the Tornado GR4 and AV-8B. They will be lucky to get 4 squadrons of F-35s, a decade late, to replace them. That is a very small force, sufficient to make a contribution to allied ops in small wars, miniscule in any peer conflict. In the latter, no chance of spare planes to surge on board… Read more »

Glass Half Full

I’ll start with Tempest because that sets the context IMO. While Tempest is nominally a Typhoon replacement it seems from various interviews and presentations at the Farnborough launch and at RUSI that we should be careful not to pigeon hole the aircraft, especially in terms of historic roles and capabilities. While positioned as complementary to F35, it might well be a superset that includes most if not all the F35A capabilities as well. Tempest for example may only approach or have similar radar stealth to F-35 but better capabilities in other areas for better overall low signature performance. I suspect… Read more »