Lockheed Martin Bags $7.6B US Contract for 129 F-35 Stealth Fighters

Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $7.6 billion contract to produce 129 F-35 stealth fighters for the US military and allied forces.

According to the US Department of Defense (DoD), 49 F-35As will be delivered to the US Air Force, while three F-35Bs and 10 F-35Cs will be received by the US Marine Corps.

Fifteen of the contracted F-35s will go to the US Navy, while 32 F-35As and four F-35Bs will be delivered to non-DoD participants.

The remaining 16 F-35s will go to US allies under Foreign Military Sales.

Apart from fighter jets, the contract requires Lockheed Martin to provide 69 shipsets of technical hardware to the US military.

Most of the work for the contract will be performed in Texas, California, and the UK.

Production Issues

Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed that Lockheed Martin had encountered delays in delivering more than one-quarter of F-35 aircraft over the past five years.

“[T]he program is years behind schedule in completing development, while continuing to acquire up to 152 aircraft per year,” GAO states.

“The more aircraft produced before operational testing is complete, the higher the risk of increased costs to retrofit those aircraft if issues are discovered.”

The delay comes after Canada, Germany, Finland, and Switzerland expressed their commitment to purchasing F-35s because of their “low cost.”

However, Lockheed Martin issued a warning in April that the cost of the fifth-generation aircraft could rise because of inflation and disruptions in supply chains due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Increasing Demand

In December, the US government awarded a $49 million contract to Lockheed Martin to design and manufacture a new F-35 variant for an undisclosed allied nation.

Greece has also approached the US to join the F-35 fighter jet co-production program.

“We sent a letter of request, and we have to wait for a time – that’s the procedure – for the letter of acceptance,” Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos said. “But everything that needs to be done on a procedural level for a swift entrance into this program is being done.”

Additionally, the US State Department recently approved the potential sale of 35 F-35s to Germany for an estimated cost of $8.4 billion.

The F-35s are expected to replace the European nation’s outdated fighter jets to support NATO missions.

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