ARLINGTON, Virginia — On Monday, the F-35 Joint Program Office released the finalised price for the most recent production contract for America’s fifth generation stealth fighter.
After a little more than 14 months of negotiations between the Department of Defence and Lockheed Martin, the ninth Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP-9) contract for 57 F-35 jets was valued at $6.1 billion.
The LRIP-9, which is essentially the ninth batch of jets, includes 34 jets for the US and 23 for five international countries.
The following is a breakdown of the unit price per variant in current year dollars (including aircraft, engine, and fee):
42 F-35A model aircraft: $102.1 million a jet
13 F-35B model aircraft: $131.6 million a jet
2 F-35C model aircraft: $132.2 million a jet
By comparison, in the previous contract, LRIP-8, the government paid $108 million for the Air Force’s F-35A, $134 million for the Marine Corps’ F-35B, and $129 million for the Navy’s F-35C.
While the price for the Air Force and Marine Corps variants saw a reduction of $5.9 million and $2.4 million respectively, the Navy model saw an increase of $3.2 million.
“Why did that happen?” asked Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, head of the F-35 Joint Program Office, during a briefing with reporters. “That happened because in lot 9 the Navy bought two C models and in lot 8 the Navy bought four models.”
“So they cut their production in half and as a result of that when you do an economies of scale in one direction it hurts you in the other direction. Having said that, 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.”
Meanwhile, the 57 aircraft in LRIP-9 are in various stages of production at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Fort Worth, Texas. Deliveries for these aircraft are slated to begin in the first quarter of 2017.