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07 May 19. Price Drop: Lockheed Pitches $80m F-35A to Pentagon. That’s the cheapest price yet for the Air Force version of the fifth-generation jet. Lockheed Martin is offering to come down more than 10% on the price of the least-expensive F-35 as it negotiates the largest sale yet of Joint Strike Fighters. The company is offering to sell the Pentagon about 100 F-35As — the version flown by the U.S. Air Force and most allies — for less than $80m each, down from $89.5m apiece in the deal signed last September. That price point suggests the company will meet its 2020 price targets for the warplane, whose lengthy development and higher-than-expected initial costs have drawn much criticism. The 100 F-35A are part of a block buy of three production lots of the jets — in all, roughly 450 jets. The order will include F-35Bs for the Marine Corps, F-35Cs for the U.S. Navy, and a variety of the jets for allies.
“We currently have an offer submitted to the Department of Defense for Lots 12-14 that is below the $80m F-35A for lot 14 in 2020, per our longstanding commitment,” company spokesman Mike Friedman wrote in an email Tuesday. “This represents equal or less than the procurement cost of legacy jets, while providing a generational leap in capability.”
The latest round of F-35 negotiations come as the Air Force is planning to buy new Boeing-made F-15 Eagle fighters for the first time in two decades. While the new Eagles would replace existing F-15s, Lockheed has argued the F-35 is a cheaper alternative and offers stealth and other technology that comes standard in a more modern, fifth-generation warplane.
The proposed purchase of three batches of jets simultaneouslyis meant to get a better price than past years’ annual purchases of a few dozen of the jets. A 2018 Rand study put the potential savings at more than $2bn.
Lockheed has delivered more than 385 F-35s to the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and American allies.
“As we ramp up production, each year we have lowered cost, reduced build time, improved quality and on time delivery,” Friedman said. “Moving forward, we are focused on and taking action to further reduce costs across both production and sustainment.” (Source: Defense One)
09 May 19. US Navy Concludes Support to JSDF-led Search and Recovery Efforts for F-35A. A U.S. Navy salvage team aboard a contracted vessel completed its mission supporting search and recovery operations with the Japan Self-Defense Forces after locating debris from the downed JASDF F-35A off the coast of Japan, May 8. Working closely with JSDF forces, the salvage team deployed a U.S. Navy remotely operated vehicle, CURV 21, to survey the area where debris was located. Prior to the salvage team mission, guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) and multiple P-8A Poseidon aircraft joined JSDF-led search efforts from Apr. 9-17, covering more than 5,000 square nautical miles. The aircraft first went missing 85 miles east of Misawa Air Base, Apr. 9. The U.S. Navy’s thoughts continue to be with the pilot’s family, friends and colleagues. The close coordination and cooperation between the U.S. military and JSDF during this operation serves as a reflection of a strong Alliance, forged over decades of mutual support and friendship.
(defense-aerospace.com EDITOR’S NOTE: According to Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya, only missing aircraft’s flight data recorder, minus some key data, part of the canopy and part of the tail surfaces have been recovered to date.
It is not clear whether the entire fuselage has been located, nor whether Japan is pursuing the search on its own.) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/US Navy 7th Fleet HQ)
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