WASHINGTON — The Pentagon and its top weapons supplier agreed on the lowest set of prices for the F-35 — the US’s most expensive weapons system — since the program began in 2001.
On Friday, the F-35 Joint Program Office released the finalised price for the most recent production contract for America’s fifth generation stealth fighter. The 10th Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP-10) contract for 90 F-35 jets came in $728 million less than LRIP-9.
On Monday, President Donald Trump announced that the latest contract with Lockheed Martin for the F-35 will be reduced by $600 million.
And though it would appear that Trump — after publicly criticising the crown jewel in the defence giant’s portfolio — is the reason for the savings, the price reduction was in the works.
Rewinding the tape back to a December 19 briefing, Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, head of the F-35 Joint Program Office, said the price for LRIP-10 contract would be reduced “significantly.”
“I fully anticipate that when we do settle LRIP-10 you’ll see all three variants, the A, the B, and the C come down in price significantly,” Bogdan said.
And by “significantly” Bogdan added that he believes “somewhere on the order of 6 to 7 per cent per aeroplane, per variant.”
The finalised price for LRIP-9, which took 14 months of negotiations between the Department of Defence and Lockheed Martin, for 57 F-35 jets was valued at $6.1 billion.
The unit price for an F-35A in current year dollars (including aircraft, engine, and fee) is $102.1 million. If you take the 6 to 7 per cent reduction into account, the savings on LRIP-10 are ballpark to the price point laid out by the Joint Program Office back in December.
Most notably in LRIP-10, the total price for an F-35A falls below $100 million for the first time.
The LRIP-10 contract includes 55 jets for the US and 35 for seven international partners and foreign military sales clients.
The following is a breakdown of the unit price per variant in current year dollars (including aircraft, engine, and fee):
Here’s the price tag for the latest batch of F-35s:
F-35A model aircraft: $94.6 million a jet
F-35 model aircraft: $122.8 million a jet
F-35C model aircraft: $121.8 million a jet