Lockheed Martin Finalizes $34 Billion Contract For Cheaper F-35s


The F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin finalized an agreement for the production and delivery of 478 F-35s on Tuesday. The $34 billion contract represents the lowest cost per aircraft in the F-35 program’s notoriously expensive history, with the F-35A unit price dropping an average of 12.8 percent over the three lots (Lots 12-14) covered by the agreement as compared to Lot 11. Unit prices for the F-35B and F-35C variants dropped an average of 12.3 percent and 13.2 percent respectively.

“With smart acquisition strategies, strong government-industry partnership and a relentless focus on quality and cost reduction, the F-35 Enterprise has successfully reduced procurement costs of the 5th Generation F-35 to equal or less than 4th Generation legacy aircraft,” said Lockheed Martin F-35 Program Vice President and General Manager Greg Ulmer. “With the F-35A unit cost now below $80 million in Lot 13, we were able to exceed our long-standing cost reduction commitment one year earlier than planned.”

By Lot 14, the F-35A is expected to cost $77.9 million per unit with the F-35B at $101.3 million and the F-35C at $94.4 million each. According to Lockheed Martin, the F-35 fleet currently includes more than 450 aircraft stationed at 19 bases around the world. The fleet has accrued in excess of 220,000 flight hours.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. It strikes me as a bit of a contradiction in logic that the government pays an additional 35 billion dollars to get a “less expensive” F-35. Especially considering it is already the single most expensive military contract in history. How many drones, F-22 Raptors or even aircraft carriers could they have built with 35 billion? Pity the poor schmuk pilot that loses one in training or mock combat exercises.

  2. This article is just press release “journalism”.
    ok, I understand the DoD definition of unit cost but anyone who understands budgets should know this article is nonsense .
    This is $34 billion for 478 airframes and engines. The program had initial acquisition cost of $406.5 billion. Divide that by the into the 430 aircraft that have been built and the 478 covered in the contract.
    There is no way these costs are anywhere near the costs of 4th gen acquisition costs.
    Also, forgot to mention that CBO experts estimate the hourly cost of $44k and no realistic way to ever get to Lockheed’s goal of a “cheap” hourly rate of $25,000/hr