The Defense Department reached an agreement in principle with Lockheed Martin for Lot 5 low-rate initial production of the F-35 strike fighter, announced Pentagon officials. “It was a tough negotiation,” said Pentagon Press Secretary George Little on Nov. 30. He added, “We’re pleased that we’ve reached an agreement.” During Lot 5, Lockheed Martin is expected to manufacture 32 F-35s: 22 Air Force F-35As, three Marine Corps F-35Bs, and seven Navy F-35Cs. Little said unit-cost data would be made available once the Lot 5 contracts are finalized and signed. Reuters reported that Pentagon and company officials expect to sign them before year’s end. Each Lot 5 airplane is expected to cost less than one-half as much as a jet built in Lot 1, according to the news service. “Production costs are decreasing and I appreciate everyone’s commitment to this important negotiation process,” said Vice Adm. Dave Venlet, F-35 program executive officer. Lot 5 production actually commenced in December 2011 under an undefinitized contract action that enabled Lockheed Martin to begin work before the parties came to a final agreement on contract terms. (AFPS report by Claudette Roulo) (See also second Reuters report.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.