Full F-35 Buy on Handshake Deal
Defense Department and Lockheed Martin officials
announced on Tuesday they've reached a "handshake deal" on the sixth
and seventh low-rate initial production lots for the F-35 strike fighter. The
agreement in principle—which covers the F-35 air vehicles, but not their
engines—features a unit price low enough that budget
sequestration won't reduce the buy, according to the F-35 program office. A
decrease in the unit costs for those two lots, "coupled with negotiating
lower prices on a number of other smaller contracts," made that possible,
said F-35 spokesman Joe DellaVedova. The two lots total 71 aircraft for the
United States and foreign partners, starting with 36 in LRIP 6. While the
parties are still hammering out the details, "in general," the unit prices in
LRIP 6 "are roughly four percent lower than the previous contract,"
said DellaVedova, while those in LRIP 7 are four percent cheaper still. Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, F-35
program executive officer, said work will continue to improve the F-35's
affordability, but the agreement is "proof the cost arrow is moving in the
right direction." LRIP 6 deliveries will start in mid-2014. The Pentagon
ordered 95 F-35s through LRIP 5. (See also Lockheed
One Generation to the Next.)
—John A. Tirpak
In More Depth
|Gates Versus the Air Force
In his book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” former Defense Secretary Robert Gates describes the Air Force as “one of my biggest headaches”—a perception USAF leaders were never able to turn around during his tenure.
A Systemic Problem
Air Force Secretary Deborah James acknowledged the Air Force does “have a systemic problem” within its nuclear forces, though she said she is confident the mission itself remains strong.
The A-12, Settled At Last
After a 23-year seesaw legal battle in which both sides were at some point “up” by more than a billion dollars, the Navy and its A-12 contractors have put the A-12 controversy to rest with a settlement.