The Defense Department and Lockheed Martin finalized the contracts for the sixth and seventh lots of F-35 low-rate initial production. LRIP 6, for 36 jets, has a value of $4.4 billion; LRIP 7, for 35 aircraft, is worth $3.4 billion, according to information released by the company. The contract signings took place on Sept. 27. LRIP 6 includes 23 F-35As ($103 million unit price, excluding engines), six F-35Bs ($109 million), and seven F-35Cs ($120 million). LRIP 7 includes 24 F-35As ($98 million), seven F-35Bs ($104 million), and four F-35Cs ($116 million). Signing these contracts “represents a significant milestone for the F-35 program and its path to enhanced affordability,” said Lorraine Martin, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 general manager. “With each successive production lot, unit costs have declined. That’s a trend we look forward to continuing as this program moves toward full-rate production and operational maturity,” she said. Lockheed Martin will begin delivering LRIP 6 aircraft in the second quarter of 2014 and LRIP 7 jets in the second quarter of 2015. (See Full F-35 Buy on a Handshake Deal and Pentagon’s Sept. 27 list of major contracts.)
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.