The Pentagon has made a preliminary deal with Lockheed Martin for the next batch of F-35 stealth jets, according to a Reuters report from the Farnborough Airshow in England. The “handshake agreement” for the purchase of 141 F-35s for delivery in 2020 is worth roughly $13 billion, which implies a 6 percent reduction in the per-unit price.
The last batch of F-35s — known as LRIP 10, for “low rate initial production” — had a per-unit price of $94 million for the F-35A, the most common variant of the jet, used by the U.S. Air Force. The per-unit price for LRIP 11 will be roughly $88 million, though prices are higher for the other two versions being purchased by the Navy and the Marines.
The agreement for the latest batch of F-35s was delayed for months as the Pentagon investigated the ongoing delays and runaway costs in the stealth jet program. If the current deal is completed, it could be the last low-rate production agreement before mass production begins. The Pentagon expects to purchase more than 3,000 F-35s, with the per-unit cost eventually falling to roughly $80 million.