Lockheed Martin has received a $4.7bn contract from the US Department of Defense (DoD) for the eighth low-rate initial production (LRIP-8) batch of F-35 Lightning II aircraft.
Under the contract, the company will supply a total of 43 F-35 fighters. This includes 19 F-35A conventional take-off and landing fighters for US Air Force, six F-35B short take-off and vertical landing jets for US Marine Corps and four F-35 carrier version fighters for the US Navy.
The contract also covers the first two F-35As for Israel, an initial four F-35As for Japan, two F-35As for Norway, two F-35As for Italy, four F-35B jets for the UK and manufacturing-support equipment and ancillary mission tools, including pilot flight equipment.
The LRIP-8 contract lowered the average price of each aircraft by 3.5% from the LRIP-7 award, and 57% from the first batch.
In particular, the cost of the A-model airframe has been reduced to $94.8m, while the average price for F-35 B- and F-35C-models would be $102m and $115.7m respectively.
The F-35 Joint Program Office was quoted by Flightglobal as saying: "LRIP 8 contract terms continue to eliminate the government’s exposure to risk by having Lockheed Martin cover 100% of any cost overruns.
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"The government and Lockheed Martin will share returns derived from any under-runs in target cost at 20% for the government and 80% for Lockheed."
The contract does not include engine costs as the power plants are being purchased from Pratt and Whitney under a separate $1.05bn deal, which the company believes would lower the engines cost from 3.5% to 4.5%, as reported by Reuters.
Lockheed F-35 programme manager Lorraine Martin told the news agency that the latest contract showed the company was making steady progress in reducing the cost of the most advanced US combat aircraft.
Deliveries under the contract are scheduled to start in 2016, and when completed, will take the total number of F-35s operated by eight countries to more than 200.
Image: A US Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft in flight. Photo: courtesy of MSgt John Nimmo Sr.