Lockheed Martin / Chris Hanoch
F-35 production line at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Tex.

Lockheed, DoD in $30B Agreement on Next F-35 Series

Jan. 3, 2023
Along with a settlement on the price for nearly 400 more Joint Strike Fighter jets, the Pentagon awarded $7.84 billion for procurement and production costs.

The U.S. Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin Corp. finally reached a $30-billion contract for production and delivery of up to 398 new F-35s – covering Lots 15 and 16, plus an option for Lot 17 – for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, plus defense forces in more than a dozen allied nations. The Pentagon’s executive officer for the F-35 F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program, USAF Lt. Gen. Mike Schmidt, said the new contract “strikes the right balance between what's best for the U.S. taxpayers, military services, allies and our foreign military sales customers.”

The agreement calls for 145 aircraft for Lot 15, 127 for Lot 16, and up to 126 for the Lot 17 contract option. Since the first F-35s were delivered in 2006, 894 aircraft have been produced, with 141 new jets delivered in 2022.

Lots 15-17 will be the first aircraft in the series to incorporate Technical Refresh-3 (TR-3) changes to system hardware, including a more powerful integrated core processor, a panoramic cockpit display, and an enhanced memory unit, all of which anticipate the future Block 4 modifications that will introduce dozens of new, advanced weapons systems.

In addition to the overall agreement, the DoD awarded $7.84 billion to Lockheed as a modification to an earlier contract, to “add scope” to the procurement program for the 127 aircraft for Lot 16 of the F-35 program, and modifications in support of 129 aircraft for Lot 15 of the program – which is already in production.

Last July, the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin arrived at an outline agreement on the terms of production for Lots 15, 16, and 17 of the F-35 program, incorporating the most recent cost-structures achieved by the Lockheed and its program partners. While Lockheed is the lead contractor for the F-35 – which is the largest U.S. defense program – other contractors include Pratt & Whitney, BAE Systems, and hundreds more.

The new award will fund work at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth, Tex., with smaller allocations for work in California, Florida, Maryland, and New Hampshire, as well as in Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

The work is expected to be completed in August 2026.

The F-35 is a single-engine, Stealth-enabled aircraft deployed for ground attack and combat, and available in three variants: F-35A, for conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL); F-35B, for short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL); and the F-35C carrier-based variant for Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) variant.

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