Lockheed Martin Corp. has been assigned a U.S. Dept. of Defense contract worth $490 million to buy components and materials for the seventh production series of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter plane. This round of production will total 35 jets, including 19 ‘A’ models (the conventional takeoff and landing version) for the U.S. Air Force, three F-35A’s for the Italian defense force, and two more for the Turkish defense force; six F-35B jets (short takeoff, vertical landing) for the U.S. Marine Corps, one F-35B for U.K. Ministry of Defence; and four F-35C (the carrier variant model, with larger wings that feature folding wingtips, among other specifications) for the U.S. Navy.
The F-35 is a supersonic, “multi-role” fighter jet with “stealth” technology that allows it to evade radar, infrared, and other detection technologies. The manufacturing program has about 900 suppliers in total, directly or indirectly employs more than 127,000 people in 45 states, and more than that in the eight partner nations. The Defense Dept. has plans to buy nearly 2,500 F-35s in three different models for the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. The total program has been estimated at close to $400 billion, though it has been under nearly constant revision and threats of rescission in recent years. The Defense Dept. intends to acquire about 2,500 F-35 jets in different configurations. Other nations in partnership (Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Italy, Turkey, Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands) will buy almost 700 jets.
The new order was welcomed by Lockheed — the Pentagon’s largest contractor — which said the green light for the seventh series will allow it to continue meeting the production schedules. "This is an important milestone in paving the way for the acquisition of these aircraft," said Lockheed spokeswoman Laurie Quincy.
Lockheed also won a new contract valued at up to $1.91 billion to handle daily oversight of the U.S. military’s Global Information Grid networks for three years, with two two-year options.
Lockheed is developing three variants of the F-35 for the U.S. military and eight partner countries, including Britain, Canada, Australia, Italy, Turkey, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands.
The U.S. military plans to buy 2,443 aircraft while the program's international partners plan to buy 697.