9, 10, A Big Fat Hen

Negotiations between the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin on Lots 9 and 10 of the F-35 program are still underway, but should be concluded “soon,” Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall reported. He told reporters Tuesday the two lots are being negotiated together and will be worth about $16 billion. The delay is in trying to get the “best value for the government,” he said. Program director Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan reiterated that the cost of the F-35 continues to drop, falling from $108 million a copy for the F-35A model in Lot 8 to about $85 million “in then-year dollars, with engine and with fee,” by 2019. Some of the “blueprint for affordability” improvements—company/government investments that have saved money by streamlining production with better processes or materials—are working, but a follow-on package won’t be launched until after Lots 9 and 10 are built, he said. After that, the government may fund the initiatives on its own dime if the payback over the 3,000-strong fleet warrants.