Lockheed Martin And DOD Talks On Next JSF Batch To End Soon

The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin should wrap negotiate for the upcoming batch of 32 early production F-35 Joint Strike Fighters in weeks, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz told Defense News on Sept. 2.

The tranche of F-35s, known as low-rate-initial production Lot-4 (LRIP-4), is seen as a crucial bellwether to the survival of the program.

Lockheed officials have said since April that the final price of LRIP-4 will be more than 20 percent below damning 2009 Pentagon estimates predicting the planes would cost $76 million per unit in 2010 dollars. Schwartz backed up this claim, saying the final price will be below the 2009 Pentagon estimates.

In June, executives from Lockheed said that the LRIP-4 deal was nearly finished. Schwartz did not comment on why the LRIP-4 has not been signed.

When asked about the progress of negotiations in late August, company spokesman John Kent would only say that "negotiations are protracted and ongoing. This is the first of many fixed-price contracts, and it is critical for both parties to get a full understanding of the terms and conditions as it will be the benchmark for all future contracts. We anticipate a fair settlement soon."