The Pentagon on Friday awardedand the team two contracts worth about US$7 billion, for 71 more fighter jets. For the US Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and the air forces of Norway, Italy, Australia, and the UK.
The U.S. Defense Department said it signed a $3.7 billion contracts for a sixth Low Rate Initial Production () batch of 36 F-35 aircraft, with the average cost of the planes down 2.5 percent from the previous deal. All but $743 million of that amount had already been awarded to the company under a preliminary contract. The two sides also signed a $3.4 billion contract for the production of 35 aircraft in a seventh batch ( ), which reflected a 6 percent drop in the average price from the fifth group (LRIP 5), the Pentagon said in a statement. The Pentagon has projected it will spend $392 billion to buy a total of 2,443 stealthy F-35 fighter jets over the next few decades to replace F-16, F-15, F/A-18 and other warplanes used by the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.
The Pentagon’s F-35 program office said the cost of each F-35 conventional takeoff A-model jet would drop to $98 million in, excluding the engine, from $103 million in . It marks the first time the price of the jet will have dipped below $100 million. The U.S. government buys the engines directly from Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp., under a separate contract. Lockheed and the Pentagon announced an agreement in principle for the next 71 jets on July 30.
The Pentagon said the price of the B-model that Lockheed is building for the Marine Corps, would drop to $104 million in LRIP 7, from $109 million in the LRIP 6. It said the cost of the C-model variant, which will be able to land and take off from aircraft carriers, would drop to $116 million a jet from $120 million in LRIP 6.
LRIP 6 modifications included $742 million modification covering the manufacture and delivery of two F-35A for Australia and three F-35A for Italy. The LRIP 7 award covers 19 F-35A aircraft for the Air Force, six Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) F-35B variants for the U.S. Marine Corps; and four F-35C Carrier Variant (CV) aircraft for the U.S. Navy. In addition, this award also allocates $612 million for the production of six foreign fighters – two F-35As for Norway; three F-35As CTOL aircraft for Italy and one F-35B for the United Kingdom. Aircraft deliveries are expected to be completed in October 2016. The F-35 also remains in the running for a 60-jet South Korean fighter competition after Seoul this week rejected a bid byCo involving its F-15 Silent Eagle fighter jet