The US does not plan on trying a block buy of F-35s for several more years, the program executive officer for the F-35 Joint Program Office said during a Sept. 9 speech in Washington, D.C. Once the program gets to low-rate initial production (LRIP) Lot 11, it should be done with all the hardware changes and production cut-ins, barring “some big hiccup,” said Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, so the risk for a block buy will diminish. “We believe by Lot 12, we will have a stable configuration with both hardware and software,” he said, noting that the “vision” for the block buy is to put lots 12, 13, and 14 together. Each of the planes out in the field now—and every one of the 493 total F-35s that will be completed by 2019—needs some kind of modification, Bogdan said. (See also Balancing F-35 Modifications, Training.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.