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​An F-35 Lightning II demonstration aircraft takes off during the AirPower over Hampton Roads open house at JB Langley-Eustis, Va., April 24, 2016. Air Force photo by SrA. R. Alex Durbin.

The Department of Defense awarded Lockheed Martin a contract for Lot 10 of F-35 production, not including engines, on Nov. 23. The “undefinitized contract” is for a total of 90 aircraft and has a ceiling of $7.2 billion. The F-35 Joint Program Office said the new contract demonstrates the DOD’s confidence in the F-35 program, but that troubled negotiations between the government and Lockheed Martin had not yet been resolved. “With a complex production line and a dynamic supply chain, it was important to obligate funds,” said JPO spokesman Joe DellaVedova, “so that no major delays would be seen in production. We are confident the finer terms of the LRIP 10 contract will be settled over the next few months.”

In early November, the government shut down negotiations with Lockheed Martin and imposed its own price for the remaining production of F-35s in Lot 9. On Monday DellaVedova said, “the unit cost per jet continues to decrease,” with each successive lot of F-35 production, but that the exact cost of Lot 10 aircraft could not be specified until negotiations had been finalized with Lockheed Martin. In total, Lot 10 will produce 44 F-35As for the Air Force, nine F-35Bs for the Marine Corps, and two F-35Cs for the Navy by March 2020. First deliveries of Lot 10 aircraft will be in the first quarter of 2018. The contract also includes 35 aircraft produced for non-DOD customers and foreign military sales.