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The US De­part­ment of De­fense and Lock­heed Martin have fi­nal­ized an $11.5 bil­lion con­tract for the pro­duc­tion and de­liv­ery of 141 F-35 air­craft at the low­est per air­craft price in pro­gramme his­tory.

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 US 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 pro­gramme,” said Vice Ad­mi­ral Mat Win­ter, F-35 Pro­gramme 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 US Govern­ment, our in­ter­na­tional part­ner­ship and in­dus­try. We re­main fo­cused on ag­gres­sively re­duc­ing F-35 cost and de­liv­er­ing best value.”

With stealth tech­nol­ogy, su­per­sonic speed, pow­er­ful sen­sors, large weapons ca­pac­ity and global de­ploy­ment, the F-35 is the most ad­vanced fighter air­craft ever built, en­abling women and men in uni­form to ex­e­cute their mis­sion and re­turn home safely. More than a fighter jet, the F-35’s abil­ity to col­lect, an­a­lyze and share data, is a pow- er­ful force mul­ti­plier that en­hances all air­borne, sur­face and ground­based as­sets in the bat­tlespace.

“This agree­ment marks a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward for the F-35 pro­gramme 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.”

The lat­est con­tract is a demon­stra­tion of the pro­gramme’s progress and ma­tu­rity, as in­dus­try and the govern­ment now set their sights on fu­ture ac­qui­si­tion ap­proaches for the next three pro­duc­tion lots to fur­ther re­duce costs.

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.

In ad­di­tion to ad­vanced ca­pa­bil­ity, the F-35 pro­vides eco­nomic sta­bil­ity to the US and Al­lied na­tions by cre­at­ing jobs, com­merce and se­cu­rity, and con­tribut­ing to the global trade bal­ance. The F-35 is built by thou­sands of men and women in Amer­ica and around the world. With more than 1,500 sup­pli­ers in 46 states and Puerto Rico, the F-35 pro­gramme sup­ports more than 194,000 di­rect and in­di­rect jobs in the US alone. The pro­gramme also in­cludes more than 100 in­ter­na­tional sup­pli­ers, cre­at­ing or sus­tain­ing thou­sands of in­ter­na­tional jobs.

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