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Lockheed Martin reaches F-35 agreement with Pentagon

The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin have reached a handshake deal on the next three F-35 lots. A final deal is expected in the next “few months”. (US Air Force/Staff Sgt Zade Vadnais)

Lockheed Martin and the US Department of Defense (DoD) have reached an agreement for low-rate initial production (LRIP) lots 15 to 17 of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter after nearly a year of contract negotiations.

“In the midst of continued Covid-19 impacts and decreased F-35 quantities, the F-35 enterprise was able to achieve a cost per jet lower than record-breaking inflation trends,” Lockheed Martin said in an 18 July release. “This price also includes modernised hardware needed to power Block 4 capabilities.”

The delivery of the aircraft's Block 4 software and hardware modernisation upgrade is taking longer than anticipated because of software issues, funding problems, and the inclusion of new capabilities, according to an April 2022 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

The Block 4 upgrade gives the jet wide-area, high-resolution synthetic aperture radar mode, a new electro-optical targeting system (EOTS), and the capacity to carry more weapons, according to Janes data.

“Over the next few months, the Lockheed Martin and Pentagon team will work together to finalise the agreement,” Lockheed Martin said in its release.

Lockheed Martin did not return requests for comment on when a final, formal deal might be announced or on pricing details.

The company also did not respond to questions about the breakdown of the three F-35 variants in the recently negotiated lots and which US services and foreign countries would receive aircraft from the negotiated lots.

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