Lockheed Claims Gen 5 at Gen 4 Price

The F-35 will ultimately match the prices of F/A-18 Super Hornets or the most advanced version of the F-16, Lockheed Martin CEO Bob Stevens said Thursday. “If we are able to secure the production volume that is necessary to drive down the learning curves, . . . our expectation is that the acquisition cost of the F-35 will be approximately comparable to a similarly-equipped F-18 or F-16 Block 60 airplane,” Stevens said in a briefing in Arlington, Va. This would be around $60 million 2010 dollars, he added. Steve O’Bryan, company vice president, said the cost quote by Stevens is contingent on no further delays in production and orders of around 4,500 aircraft—roughly the same number as F-16s that have been produced. Lockheed officials are confident in those numbers because the F-35 will replace not only F-16s, but also A-10s, F-18s, AV-8Bs, and other aircraft. Moreover, the F-35 price includes all the mission gear usually “sold separately” on fourth generation fighters, such as AESA radars, infrared search and track systems, electronic warfare equipment, and weapons pylons, said O’Bryan. (See Lightning Bargains above.)