Lockheed Martin again cuts price for military’s F-35 jet
In a move that’s sure to please President Trump, top military contractor Lockheed Martin said Friday it’s slashing the price of the groundbreaking F-35 aircraft just a day after the fighter jet flew its first combat missions in Afghanistan.
Lockheed officials said they were cutting the price of the F-35A by 5.4 percent, bringing it down to $89.2 million per plane. The more expensive F-35B and F-35C versions also saw major reductions; the F-35B saw its price tag lowered by 5.7 percent to $115.5 million per plane.
The cost for the F-35C is now $107.7 million, 11.1 percent lower than the previous deal between Lockheed and the Pentagon.
“Driving down cost is critical to the success of this program,” said Vice Admiral Mat Winter, F-35 program executive officer at the Pentagon. “We are delivering on our commitment to get the best price for taxpayers and warfighters. This agreement for the next lot of F-35s represents a fair deal for the U.S. government, our international partnership and industry. We remain focused on aggressively reducing F-35 cost and delivering best value.”
F-35B fighters with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 flew their first combat missions in Afghanistan this week, launching air strikes in support of “ground clearance operations,” military officials said. The cutting-edge plane is designed to take off and land vertically on Navy ships and Marine Corps bases.
Lockheed’s price cut is the latest in a series of reductions that began after Mr. Trump blasted the high cost of the F-35 program shortly after taking office last year. In February 2017, after the president took direct aim at the cost of the F-35 and ordered Defense Secretary James N. Mattis to review the operation, Lockheed officials cut the price by roughly $700 million.
Even after Friday’s announcement, leaders of the program say further reductions are on the horizon.
“This agreement marks a significant step forward for the F-35 program as we continue to increase production, reduce costs and deliver transformational capabilities to our men and women in uniform,” said Greg Ulmer, F-35 vice president and general manager. “As production ramps up, and we implement additional cost savings initiatives, we are on track to reduce the cost of the F-35A to $80 million by 2020, which is equal to or less than legacy aircraft, while providing a major leap in capability.”