The Defense Department reached an agreement in principle with Lockheed Martin for Lot 5 low-rate initial production of the F-35 strike fighter, announced Pentagon officials. “It was a tough negotiation,” said Pentagon Press Secretary George Little on Nov. 30. He added, “We’re pleased that we’ve reached an agreement.” During Lot 5, Lockheed Martin is expected to manufacture 32 F-35s: 22 Air Force F-35As, three Marine Corps F-35Bs, and seven Navy F-35Cs. Little said unit-cost data would be made available once the Lot 5 contracts are finalized and signed. Reuters reported that Pentagon and company officials expect to sign them before year’s end. Each Lot 5 airplane is expected to cost less than one-half as much as a jet built in Lot 1, according to the news service. “Production costs are decreasing and I appreciate everyone’s commitment to this important negotiation process,” said Vice Adm. Dave Venlet, F-35 program executive officer. Lot 5 production actually commenced in December 2011 under an undefinitized contract action that enabled Lockheed Martin to begin work before the parties came to a final agreement on contract terms. (AFPS report by Claudette Roulo) (See also second Reuters report.)
More than two dozen U.S. Air Force fighters and tankers—including F-35s for the first time—are participating in what U.S. Air Forces in Europe calls the “premier” Nordic aerial exercise over the next two weeks.