The U.S. Defense Department and Lockheed Martin have reached an agreement in principle to manufacture 32 F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter jets, Pentagon Press Secretary George E. Little said Nov. 30.
The jets are part of Low-Rate Initial Production batch 5 — the fifth production lot of the aircraft. Unit-cost data will be made available once the contracts are finalized and signed, Little said.
“Production costs are decreasing and I appreciate everyone’s commitment to this important negotiation process,” said Navy Vice Adm. Dave Venlet, the F-35 program executive officer.
The agreement also covers the costs of manufacturing support equipment, flight test instrumentation and additional mission equipment, he added.
“It was a tough negotiation,” Little said, “and we’re pleased that we’ve reached an agreement.”
According to a news release from the F-35 program office, Lockheed Martin will produce 22 F-35A conventional take-off and landing variants for the Air Force, three F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variants for the Marine Corps and seven F-35C carrier variants for the Navy.
Aircraft production was started in December 2011 under a previously authorized undefinitized contract action, the release said. Undefinitized contract actions authorize contractors to begin work before reaching a final agreement on contract terms.
The agreement sets the program to move forward according to improved business timelines, Little said. “It’s good for all nations that are partnered with us in this important effort for our future national security.”
The United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Turkey, Israel and Singapore are partners or participants in the aircraft’s development program, and the Japanese government announced in December 2011 it will buy 42 of the fighters.