World's largest fighter jets deal worth $34 billion for 478 F - 35 stealths

World's largest fighter jets deal worth $34 billion for 478 F - 35 stealths

ISLAMABAD - The Pentagon signed a $34 billion agreement with planemaker Lockheed Martin on Tuesday to procure 478 more F-35 Lightning II stealth aircraft for both the US and foreign militaries. An infamously expensive program, some of the F-35s will be bought at the cheapest prices yet reached, passing below $80 million per unit for the first time.

The deal will cover three deliveries of Low Rate Initial Production batches, called lots 12, 13 and 14, each batch cheaper than the last, and including all three varieties of the stealthy strike jet. At a Tuesday Pentagon press briefing link, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen M. Lord said the average price drop would be 12.7%.

"We will reach a unit-recurring flyaway-cost-per-aircraft target of $80 million for a US Air Force F-35A price by Lot 13, which is one lot earlier than planned, a significant milestone for the department," Lord said. However, prices for the B and C variants remain higher: while the third batch of F-35As is expected to cost $77.9 million each, the F-35Bs in Lot 14 will cost $101.3 million each, with the F-35Cs costing $94.4 million each, according to Lockheed figures cited by Defense News link .

Of the planes, 291 will be for the US service branches, and 127 will go to international partners who’ve contributed to the F-35 program, with the final 60 being set aside for foreign military sale customers.

That’s a big number, considering Lockheed only delivered link the 400th F-35 in June, Sputnik hhas reported.

The F-35A, which flies from standard airfields, is the Air Force variant and also the primary export model, used by countries including Japan, the Netherlands and Norway. The others are more specialized: the F-35B, in use by the US Marine Corps and a handful of countries like the UK, has a rotating thrust nozzle to facilitate short or vertical takeoffs and landings. The F-35C is only used by the US Navy and has larger wings, a tailhook and a reinforced undercarriage to help the plane survive catapult launches and arrested landings on aircraft carriers.

The price tag makes the F-35, once judged at $150 million per aircraft, more competitive with existing mainstays like the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, which has an off-the-shelf price link of $70.5 million.