The US Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin have finalised an $11.5 billion contract for the production and delivery of 141 F-35 aircraft at the lowest per aircraft price in programme history.
The firm say that “for the eleventh consecutive year”, the cost of an F-35A was lowered. The F-35A unit price including aircraft, engine and fee, is $89.2 million. This represents a 5.4 percent reduction from the $94.3 million it cost for an F-35A in Low-Rate Initial Production Lot 10 (LRIP 10).
In LRIP 11, the F-35B unit cost was lowered to $115.5 million. This represents a 5.7 percent reduction from the $122.4 million it cost for the short-takeoff and landing variant in LRIP 10.
The F-35C unit cost was lowered to $107.7 million. This represents an 11.1 percent reduction from the $121.2 million it cost for the carrier variant in LRIP 10.
The LRIP 11 agreement funds 91 aircraft for the U.S. Services, 28 for F-35 International Partners and 22 for F-35 Foreign Military Sales customers. Deliveries will begin in 2019.
“Driving down cost is critical to the success of this program,” said Vice Admiral Mat Winter, F-35 Program Executive Officer.
“We are delivering on our commitment to get the best price for taxpayers and warfighters. This agreement for the next lot of F-35s represents a fair deal for the U.S. Government, our international partnership and industry. We remain focused on aggressively reducing F-35 cost and delivering best value.”
The company said in a release:
“With more than 320 aircraft operating from 15 bases around the globe – the F-35 is playing a critical role in today’s global security environment. More than 680 pilots and 6,200 maintainers have been trained and the F-35 fleet has surpassed more than 155,000 cumulative flight hours. The F-35 weapons system reliability continues to improve through a combination of hardware and software improvements.”
“This agreement marks a significant step forward for the F-35 program as we continue to increase production, reduce costs and deliver transformational capabilities to our men and women in uniform,” said Greg Ulmer, F-35 Vice President and General Manager.
“As production ramps up, and we implement additional cost savings initiatives, we are on track to reduce the cost of the F-35A to $80 million by 2020, which is equal to or less than legacy aircraft, while providing a major leap in capability.”