Lockheed wins $490 mn deal to buy F-35 parts
WASHINGTON LOCKHEED Martin Corp has won a US contract worth $490 million to start buying parts, material and components for a seventh batch of 35 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter planes, the Pentagon announced on Friday.
Lockheed, the Pentagon’s largest supplier, welcomed the agreement and said it would help ensure that the $396 billion F-35 programme, which has been restructured three times in recent years, continued to meet its production schedules.
“This is an important milestone in paving the way for the acquisition of these aircraft,” said Lockheed spokeswoman Laurie Quincy.
News of the order came as Lockheed continued to hire temporary workers to maintain F-35 production at its plant in Fort Worth, Texas, where 3,300 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers have been on strike for eight weeks over pension and healthcare benefits.
The US Department of Defence said the order would include 19 conventional takeoff and landing or “A” models for the US Air Force; three F-35A models for the government of Italy; two F-35As for Turkey; six short takeoff, vertical landing or F-35B aircraft for the US Marine Corps; one F- 35B for Britain, and four carrier variant aircraft for the Navy.
In addition, this contract provides long lead-time efforts required for the incorporation of a drag chute in conventional takeoff air systems for the government of Norway.
Lockheed remains locked in difficult negotiations with the Pentagon to finalise the details of a fifth order of 32 low-rate production planes.
Earlier on Friday, Norway placed its first firm order for two F-35 aircraft and said it expects to order another 50 planes for a total procurement cost of $10 billion, the country’s largest ever public purchase.
Norway, which has stood firmly by the programme and its order, will receive its first four aircraft by 2016. The remaining 48 would be delivered after 2017.
Norway said it would also begin preparations for the final phase of Joint Strike Missile development after it received US support for the integration of the missile into the F-35.
Lockheed is developing three variants of the F-35 for the US military and eight partner countries, including Britain, Canada, Australia, Italy, Turkey, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands.
The US military plans to buy 2,443 aircraft while the programme’s international partners plan to buy 697.