Lockheed Martin Aeronautics landed two U.S. Dept. of Defense contracts in the closing days of 2021, with an estimated total value of $1.34 billion, supporting the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program.
The F-35 is a single-engine aircraft designed for deployment for ground attack and combat. Lockheed is the lead contractor for the program, which also includes Pratt & Whitney and BAE Systems, and hundreds more manufacturers.
The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is the largest U.S. defense program.
In the first new agreement, Lockheed was granted a contract update not to exceed $847 million, for procurement of long lead materials, parts, components, and effort for 105 F-35 jets in Lot 17 Joint Strike Fighter program. Work on this project is due to be completed in May 2026.
The second award is a $492.69-million modification to an earlier contract, to provide logistics support (including “ground maintenance activities, action request solutions, depot activities, automatic logistics information system operation and maintenance, reliability and maintainability, supply-chain management, pilot training, maintainer training, and training system sustainment") for F-35 aircraft already delivered to the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, and foreign defense customers of the Dept. of Defense. This work is set to be completed in December 2022.
To date, more than 700 F-35s jets have been delivered and are operating from 21 bases worldwide by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and more than a dozen allied defense forces.
The Pentagon and Lockheed have engaged in various disputes over the production costs of the aircraft – with a reported unit cost of $78 million for the basic version F-35A – though in September 2021 the parties agreed that for 2022 Lockheed will deliver 151-153 new aircraft, and in 2023 and for the foreseeable future it will deliver 156 new aircraft annually.
Maintenance costs for F-35 fighter jets are a separate area of contention, including disputes over some substandard or defective parts supplied between 2015 and 2020. During that period, spare parts and subsystems for F-35 maintenance were delivered without the requisite electronic data records for individual components’ history and remaining service life. Such data is critical for aircraft maintenance. Last March, Lockheed agreed to compensate the Defense Dept. for those errors.