Lockheed Martin is currently negotiating the final low-rate initial production (LRIP) lot for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), ahead of the first planned multiyear block buy.
Speaking to reporters in late April, the company’s vice-president for F-35 business development and strategy integration, Jack Crisler, said that with the LRIP 11 procurement for 141 aircraft now being negotiated, talks will start for the first three-year block buy that should help bring the aircraft’s unit price down. While the final LRIP 11 deal has yet to be agreed, the DoD has already awarded some USD8.8 billion in holding contracts and other related awards for the production lot.
“We are now delivering the  Lot 10 aircraft, and negotiating Lot 11,” Crisler said. “After Lot 11 the plan is for a three-year block buy to be negotiated with the Department of Defense [DoD] and the programme’s industry suppliers to reduce the recurring costs in the programme.”
This block buy will cover between 440 and 460 aircraft across production lots 12 to 14. With a 2007 Lot 1 unit cost of the conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35A in excess of USD250 million, the 2020 cost of an LRIP 14 F-35A is projected to be USD80 million.
As noted by Crisler, the end of LRIP production will coincide with the conclusion of the system, design, and development (SDD) phase of the programme. The Block 3F full combat software was rolled out in December 2017, ahead of the completion of SDD flight trials in April. Initial operational test and evaluation will begin in the third quarter of 2018.
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