Home » Aviation » Pentagon Awards $6 Billion Contract Modification To Keep F-35 Production Rolling

Pentagon Awards $6 Billion Contract Modification To Keep F-35 Production Rolling

Two Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II, assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, transit the Pacific Ocean on Jan. 9, 2017. US Marine Corps Photo

The Pentagon modified its current F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter contract with Lockheed Martin to include an additional $6 billion intended to keep the production line going as details of a future contract are negotiated.

The F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) announced the deal late Wednesday. The new funding will pay for the manufacture of 255 F-35 fighters, to be divvied between the U.S. military and for sale to foreign militaries.

At the end of September, the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin signed an $11.5-billion contract to build Lot 11 of the F-35. This latest contract modification is for fighters being built as part of lots 12, 13 and 14.

The U.S. will receive 106 of the 255 F-35 fighters, with the Air Force receiving 64 F-35A models, the Marine Corp receiving 26 vertical lift short take-off F-35B variants and the Navy receiving 16 arrested landing, catapult launch F-35C variants, according to the JPO.

This contract modification, the JPO states, will, “enable us to deliver on our goal of an $80 million F-35A by 2020.”

The following is the full JPO contract announcement.

F-35 Joint Program Office Media Statement on LRIP 12 UCA

On 14 November the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) awarded a modification to the previously-awarded Low-Rate Initial Production Lot 12 (LRIP 12) advance acquisition contract. This award directs the continuation of production activity for all aircraft in the F-35 program’s LRIP 12 contract, as well as aircraft for several international customers in LRIPs 12, 13 and 14 (Fiscal Years 2018, 2019, 2020). This contracting funding strategy provides stability and a steady production rate over a defined period of time, which enables industry to plan and make investments that reduce overall cost and achieve greater manufacturing efficiencies.

Today’s contract action obligates $6 billion in funding from the U.S. Services, International Partners and our Foreign Military Sales customers for 255 F-35 aircraft. F-35 aircraft allocation includes; 106 F-35s for the U.S. Services, 89 F-35s for International Partners, 60 F-35s for our Foreign Military Sales customers. LRIP 12, 13 and 14 aircraft deliveries will begin in 2020, 2021 and 2022, respectively.

This award brings the Department of Defense into compliance with Congressional direction by placing all 20 FY18 (Lot 12) and 16 FY19 (Lot 13) congressional plus up aircraft on contract. It also establishes a $22.7 billion not-to-exceed contract threshold for LRIP 12 aircraft. This Undefinitized Contract Action (UCA) enables F-35 production to continue efficiently while the government and industry teams reach contract agreement. We are committed to reducing costs, and confident the final negotiated LRIP 12 aircraft unit prices will be less than LRIP 11, and enable us to deliver on our goal of an $80 million F-35A by 2020. In parallel, a separate Lot 12 propulsion UCA between the JPO and Pratt & Whitney is currently being negotiated.

Lockheed Martin Statement on F-35 UCA

This Undefinitized Contract Action will provide critical funds to ensure F-35 production and cost reduction efforts remain on schedule as we partner with the F-35 Joint Program Office to finalize the formal contract agreement. The acquisition approach for Lots 12-14 will deliver significant cost savings and is critical to achieving our joint goal of an $80 million F-35A for aircraft ordered in 2020. This is a smart approach for the taxpayer, the warfighter and for industry. We appreciate the government’s proactive action and partnership to maintain supply chain stability, reduce costs and ensure deliveries remain on track to meet growing demand around the globe.

Official DoD Contract Announcement

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $22,712,874,822 not-to-exceed undefinitized contract modification to a previously awarded fixed-price-incentive-firm-target, firm-fixed-price advanced acquisition contract (N00019-17-C-0001) for 255 aircraft. This modification provides for the production and delivery of 106 F-35 aircraft for the U.S. services (64 F-35As Air Force; 26 F-35Bs Marine Corps; 16 F-35Cs Navy); 89 F-35s for non-Department of Defense (DoD) participants (71 F-35As, 18 F-35 Bs); and 60 F-35s for Foreign Military Sales customers (60 F-35As). The U.S. aircraft quantities are for the Lot 12 program of record plus fiscal 2018/fiscal 2019 aircraft quantity congressional adds. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas (57 percent); El Segundo, California (14 percent); Warton, United Kingdom (9 percent); Cameri, Italy (4 percent); Orlando, Florida (4 percent); Nashua, New Hampshire (3 percent); Baltimore, Maryland (3 percent); San Diego, California (2 percent); Nagoya, Japan (2 percent); and various locations outside the continental U.S. (2 percent), and is expected to be completed in March 2023. Fiscal 2018 and 2019 aircraft procurement funds (Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy) in the amount of $3,505,522,468 (59 percent); non-DoD participant funds in the amount of $1,578,531,164 (26 percent); and Foreign Military Sales funds in the amount of $916,667,000 (15 percent) for a total of $6,000,720,632 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.


  • Bubblehead

    I’ve been a big critic of the F35 but at $80M a pop, you can’t beat that. Cheaper than a new F15 (though boeing would prob match the price if it meant selling some planes) and right about the cost of new F18 or F16.

    They still have to significantly cut the sustainment cost and raise the availability rates. The cost per hour is unsustainable and will be a dagger if now lowered.

    And the USAF still needs an air superiority fighter if it wants to guarantee air dominance. The F35 can defend itself but it is no air superiority fighter. Its kinematics let it down. Physics don’t lie.

    • Duane

      Actually, no, the F-35 operating cost per hour is already as low as the far less capable F-16, according to AF statements earlier this fall, now down the mid-20Ks per hour (six years ago, with a very low base of aircraft, it was still only about $31K per hour). If that is “unsustainable”, please explain why the hourly operating cost for the old F-15s (mid $50Ks), which is double that, is sustainable. And the F-22 op cost (upper $60Ks) is significantly more than even that.

      The availability issues are strictly due to short supplies of spare parts as the base of operating aircraft is accelerating. As of today we have about 320 operating F-35s, US and foreign. This contract alone will add another 255. So the challenge of accelerating spares production with that kind of production ramp up is indeed daunting. We have never had that kind of ramp up on any American jet fighter.

      Finally, the AF now recognizes that the F-35 is actually a superior air superiority fighter over the F-22, with much superior sensors, computing capability, and ECM. The AF was specifically pitched an updated F-22 earlier this year, and the AF said no thank you, they have no need for any more F-22s, they just want all the F-35s they can get their hands on.

      • Bubblehead

        Paragraph 1 #FakeNews
        Paragraph 2 True
        Paragraph 3 #FakeNews

        • Duane

          Para. 1 is not “fake news”. The facts are the facts … you just don’t like them.

          Para. 3 is a fact you’ll just have to resign yourself to. The F-35 is far superior at air to air combat than the F-22. It’s really quite simple – the F-35 has the world’s best airborne sensors, the F-22 does not. The F-35 has the world’s best ECM on any fighter aircraft, the F-22 does not. The F-35 has the world’s finest airborne battle management computer, and the F-22 does not. Both aircraft use exactly the same air to air weapons.

          Game set match to F-35.

    • Ser Arthur Dayne

      If we would only admit how smart, necessary, and useful it would be to allow Japan to fund the production of F-57s (Restarted F-22-based air superiority fighters based on F-35 technology) and allow the Navy and Air Force to buy them… I have said it before- — the Air Force definitely could use them, and the Navy Carrier Air Wings in 10 years could consist of squadron each of F/A-18E strike fighters, F/A-18F multirole two-seat strike fighters, F-35C JSFs, and F-57 air superiority/interceptor fighters. And Japan wants them badly. I just don’t see the potential con and all pros.

      • The cons of a big two engine dedicated air superiority fighter are cost and inflexibility. Best case scenario you could afford two F-22’s (without any upgrades) for every three F-35’s. Further, having dedicated superiority fighters means you effectively have fewer planes for ground attack missions (which are more common even in high intensity war).

        In the end I would rather have 60 F-35’s that can do everything to an acceptable degree than 30 F-35’s and 15-20 F-22’s that are really good at just a single mission – this is doubly true on carriers were space is at a premium and only a limited number of aircraft can be carried (and that number will be smaller for big two engine fighters).

        • Ser Arthur Dayne

          OK, but a few things here-

          Despite the fact the F-22 is a “dedicated air superiority fighter” , it’s currently our front-line striking aircraft in Syria , so it’s not like it simply can’t do it or “not a pound for air-to-ground” etc.

          Also, 2 for 3 is really not that bad of a ratio. I realize there are technical, financial, and space limitations *IN ALL ASPECTS* of Naval Aviation.

          But most of your points were “I feel” and “I would rather” and “I think” … that’s fair, but not exactly “That won’t work” or “Impossible ” or “Wrong…”.

          • Of course it’s not impossible, but that doesn’t mean it would be a good idea. Your first post said you didn’t see any cons to building a modern F-22 so I pointed some out.

            Also, the F-22’s air to ground capability really is minimal. According to one article I saw, during a six month deployment in Syria a squadron of Raptors flew 590 sorties but only dropped 4,250# of ordnance.

          • Oskar

            “… it’s currently our front-line striking aircraft in Syria…”?

            Yeah, NO.

            What shot down that Su-22?

        • Duane

          Actually, the ratio is 2+:1 F-35 to F-22 per this production increment.

          This contract will yield a $80M minus F-35A .. when the F-22 stopped production in the last decade, its fly away unit cost (not including development) was $176M, and with simple inflation, with no enhancements (which would be required) that price would be in excess of $200M today .. and that price in 2008 was at the peak of F-22 high rate production with lowest unit costs, whereas even with no enhancements, simply restarting production line would bump the unit price to much higher than $200M.

      • Duane

        The Air Force has already emphatically said “no” to an updated F-22, earlier this fall. Instead, the Air Force made it clear they want lots more F-35s.

    • I agree with your first two paragraphs, but the F-35 is a quite capable air superiority fighter with kinematics lying somewhere between the F-16 and F/A-18. All the “F-35 can’t turn” nonsense is based on early production planes that lacked their full flight software or outright misinformation.

      • Bubblehead

        It has nothing to do with turning. There is alot more to air supiority fighter than how quick it can turn. Especially in the age of helmet mounted quiing systems.

        Its lack of thrust to weight ratio; lack of speed particularly interdiction speed, high wing loading, smallish radar & especially lack of internal carriage of AMRAAM will limit its supiority capability. Compare each of those to the F22.

        • Yes, the F-35 does not have the full air to air capabilities of the F-22. However, that is not the question. The question is whether the F-35 is a competent air superiority fighter and the answer is a resounding yes.

          The performance specs of the F-35 are better than anything any other nation is building and not all that far behind the F-22. And against the F-22, the F-35 is significantly cheaper, meaning the total force will actually be able to provide greater coverage and carry more AMRAAM’s.

        • Oskar

          “Its lack of thrust to weight ratio; lack of speed particularly interdiction speed, high wing loading, smallish radar & especially lack of internal carriage of AMRAAM will limit its supiority capability.”?

          According to what professional sources?

          Seeing as the F-35 has won EVERY competition it’s been in,over every competitor, I suspect those air warfare professionals know a BIT more than you do.

          BTW, the F-35 was designed to carry AIM-120’s internally.

  • Duane

    This is very good. I read earlier this week that Ellen Lord was interviewed and she said that the final contract signing for the new lots was due soon, possibly before the end of next month.

  • RobM1981


    What? No pennies?

    I think it’s pretty loose accounting when you can’t account for $22,712,874,822 down to the penny…

    • Ser Arthur Dayne

      As the Vulcan Starfleet Captain Solok once said, “Humans are often irked by such precision…”

      • RobM1981

        That was awesome…

        And, yes, the first thing I think of when I view a DoD contract is “Vulcan-like precision.”


  • b2

    What a “hog program” regardless of any arguments around here about its cost and capabilities! An insidious multi-trillion dollar program spread across 3 services and a dozen foreign “partners”! A hog too big to butcher, but maybe a diet is in order? Really “Yugly” to read about. taxpayer should expect more but its too late. All gimmicks here on in, it seems.

    • Duane

      No – not a multi trillion dollar program. A $400B program (including both development and manufacturing costs) to replace all three attack aircraft in the US military inventory. The operating costs for the F-35 now are no higher than for the low end F-16, and are much much lower than that for the F-15 and the F-22, which cost more than double the hourly operating cost of the F-35.

      • Bubblehead

        Duane likes making stuff up out of the blue air or reading old 10 year old Lockheed Martin bullitens that have proven wrong. The F35 cost per hour is sky high. Not much better than F22. And its availability rates arent any better. But it is a early so it still has to play out.

        And there are about a half dozen fighters that are kinematically superior to F35 in many aspects, not just 1. F35 survival is based on electronics and stealth. In about 10 years those advantages will be significantly marginalized.

        • Oskar

          Bubblehead likes making stuff up out of the blue air or reading amateur anti-F35 troll blogs.

          “The F35 cost per hour is sky high. Not much better than F22. And its availability rates arent any better.”?

          Cite your source.

        • Duane

          The Air Force reports the operating costs. You don’t like the results, so you pretend that I make stuff up that the AF reports, and label it fake news, just like your Maximum Dear Leader in the White House does. Like peas in a pod, you two.

  • vetww2

    Hey, I can use a small fraction of that, and I promise not to produce any F-35s, either.

  • Top secret clearence

    The F-35 can be seen by terahertz radar,quantum radar,low frequencies radar and magic radar.China has air to air missiles that flies at mach 6 speed with range of 300 miles.Trump has authorized one billion dollars for Lockheed-Martin to developed hypersonic missiles.

  • Bubblehead

    Duane, aka LCS Loverboy, is stuck on s—-d.

    In the last month the USAF has openly stated (and this has been wide spread published by numerous media outlets) that if LM cannot OPERATING COST of the F35 it will have to reduce its order by 1/3 because it is too expensive to fly. GOOGLE IT!

    And keep in mind the F35A is the cheapest to operate.

  • Oskar

    Answer the question.

    You do know how to do that, don’t you?

    If not, oh… you should ask for some instruction.