Lockheed finalises deal for 90 F-35s, claims $728M savings

US Lockheed bring cost of F-35A under $100 million

"President Trump's personal involvement in the F-35 program accelerated the negotiations and sharpened our focus on driving down the price", it was quoted as saying by Reuters. The Pentagon has recently announced that a review is ongoing to compare the F/A-18E/F with the F-35C carrier variant.

Defence giant Lockheed Martin had agreed to sell 90 new F-35 fighter jets to the US Defence Department for $8.5 billion, cutting $700 million on the last batch of the aircraft to be delivered. "The agreement was reached in a matter of weeks and represents significant savings over previous contracts".

For the F-35A variant the unit cost is $94.6 million, or 7.3% reduction from the ninth batch. Trump started crticizing the program cost with a tweet in late December and on January 30 claimed credit for helping wring $600 million in savings from the Lot 10 contract after meetings with Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson.

But the JPO did not reveal the total price of the contract in a 3 February news release, and the numbers available conflicts with the per-unit prices.

Trump had not only threatened to close down the programme, but had also suggested he could consider rival Boeing to provide the United States with an alternative fighter jet.

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"We're pleased to have reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Defence for the next 90 F-35 aircraft", Lockheed said in a statement.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was quick off the mark and declared it "another big win that the president has delivered on for United States taxpayers".

Once servicing and maintenance costs for the F-35 are factored in over the aircraft's lifespan through 2070, overall program costs are expected to rise to $1.5 trillion. In July 2014, the DOD announced a "Blueprint for Affordability" agreement with Lockheed Martin and suppliers Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems to reduce the F-35 price to that of a fourth-generation fighter by 2019 through the implementation of manufacturing process improvements.

Of the 90 jets commissioned under the contract, 55 would go to the USA military and the remaining 35 to global partners and foreign military customers, the Pentagon said.

Most of the planes being ordered by the Pentagon are for the F-35A, a conventional takeoff and landing variant for the U.S. Air Force. Deliveries would begin in early 2018.

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