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‘Handshake’ deal sees F-35A price drop below US$90m


(Andrew McLaughlin)

A reported “handshake” deal between the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office (JPO) and prime contractor Lockheed Martin for 141 F-35s will see the average price of the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant drop below US$90m (A$121m) for the first time.

The latest deal for Lot 11 production will see the price of the F-35A drop six per cent to US$89m over the previous Lot 10 deal which was agreed to in February 2017. The Lot 11 agreement is expected to be ratified in the coming weeks.

The RAAF has to date received six F-35As from Lots 6 and 9, while a further four are currently in Lot 10 production at Lockheed Martin’s Forth Worth facility. Long lead items for Lot 11 have already been procured, and major structural elements of Lot 11 including additional RAAF aircraft are already in various stages of production at Lockheed Martin’s Marietta facility in Georgia, and Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale factory in California.

The JPO and Lockheed Martin are also negotiating to sign a multi-year procurement of more than 400 F-35s which would see the F-35A reach its goal price of US$80m (A$107.5m), from which about 53 of the RAAF’s 72 F-35As will be produced.