The American group Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon announced on Tuesday the finalisation of a 34-billion dollar contract to produce 478 F-35 stealth fighter planes in three versions over the next few years.
Belgium decided last autumn to acquire 34 F-35 A’s by the Pentagon to replace its F-16s from 2023, for a cost of 3,8 billion euros.
Pentagon’s contract to Lockheed Martin covers production of three F-35 versions: A. conventional take-off and landing, B. vertical take-off and landing and C. the version designed to operate from aircraft carriers that has been uniquely acquired by the US Navy.
According to Lockheed Martin, the contract meets and even exceeds targets relating to the reduction of costs called for by the American government, with a price “of less than 80 million dollars” each for the F-35s in lots 13 and 14.
In the same context, the “Joint Program Office”, the Pentagon agency running the F-35 programme and which has also sold 34 F-35s to Belgium, awarded Lockheed Martin a contract worth more than seven billion dollars for the production of 114 lot-13 aircraft.
The planes will go to the US Air Force (48 F-35 A’s), Marine Corps (20 F-35 B’s), US Navy (9 F-35 C’s) and to foreign customers: twelve F-35 A’s to Norway, fifteen to Australia and eight F-35 A’s and two F-35 B’s for Italy.
Launched at the beginning of the 1990s, the F-35 – alias “Joint Strike Fighter” (JSF) – is the most expensive armament programme in American military history, with an estimated total cost of nearly 400 billion dollars to the Pentagon and with the aim of producing nearly 2,500 fighter jets over the coming decades.