Officials of the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md. -- the organization handling F-35 procurement for all military forces -- announced a $920.4 million contract with the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics segment in Fort Worth, Texas, for long lead items involves with 94 F-35 aircraft.
Long-lead items either are difficult and time-consuming to obtain, and are funded early in the aircraft design process to keep overall production on schedule. Contracts to build the 94 F-35 combat jets will come later.
The F-35 is a fifth-generation single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole jet fighter-bomber designed to perform ground attack, aerial reconnaissance, and air defense missions. It is one of the most advanced combat jets in the world.
The contract announced Thursday involves several different low-rate initial production versions of the F-35 for several U.S. military and foreign buyers.
This contract provides for 78 conventional takeoff and landing F-35A aircraft -- 44 for the U.S. Air Force, two for Italy, two for Turkey, eight for Australia, six for Norway, and 16 for other foreign militaries.
The contract also involves 14 vertical- and short-takeoff versions of the F-35B -- nine for the U.S. Marine Corps, three for Britain, and two for Italy. Finally, the contract involves two carrier-based F-35C aircraft for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
The F-35 is designed to replace U.S. F-16, A-10, F/A-18, and AV-8B tactical fighter and attack aircraft. Lockheed Martin has been developing the F-35 since 2001, and the first fully equipped and battle-ready U.S. F-35 squadron should be ready next year.
Lockheed Martin and its partners will do the work on this contract in Fort Worth, Texas; El Segundo, Calif.; Warton, England; Orlando, Fla.; Nashua, N.H.; Baltimore; and Cameri, Italy,, and should be finished by May 2019.