Crucial Exports

One of the reasons why the Pentagon might be optimistic about getting F-35 costs down is that projected foreign sales of the stealth fighter are likely to be substantially larger than the Defense Department now lets on, meaning that a volume discount is likely to apply in the long term. So said Steve O’Bryan, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for business development. He told the Daily Report that countries now signed up or expressing keen interest—Israel, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Spain—have a combined requirement that exceeds those of the eight F-35 partner nations (Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and Turkey). Those partners have a combined requirement for 700 F-35s; meanwhile, the already-identified interest among those five additional countries totals more than 700, noted O’Bryan. “There are about 4,500 F-16s out there” that will need replacement in the next 30 years, on top of Harriers, Tornados, F-18s, and AMXs, said O’Bryan. He described a potential world market nearly double the planned US production of some 2,400 F-35s.