Lockheed Martin expects to advance its F-35 deals with Japan and Israel within the next few months, leading to combined orders for more than 60 Joint Strike Fighters.

Earlier this month, company officials visited Japan to discuss the nation's planned F-X purchase of 42 F-35As, following a competitive selection made last December.

Tokyo is expected to approve a letter of agreement for the deal in March, with this document likely to be signed in June, says Stephen O'Bryan, Lockheed vice-president F-35 programme integration and business development.

Dismissing Japanese media reports raising concerns over a possible increase in the F-35's unit price, linked to a slowdown in the USA's procurement rate for the type, O'Bryan says: "We remain firm on price."

 F-35A - Lockheed Martin

© Lockheed Martin

Japan and Israel both plan to introduce the conventional F-35A

Israel, meanwhile, has approved its future system development and demonstration activity for the F-35, as negotiations for its launch production order continue. A contract for about 20 conventional take-off and landing aircraft will be signed following the completion of talks linked to the integration of unique equipment for the Israeli air force.

"We are in negotiations on the final bit," says O'Bryan, who declines to comment on the systems under discussion with Israel.

The nation has previously voiced its desire to integrate Israeli-developed avionics and electronic warfare equipment with its F-35 fleet, and to agree an in-country support mechanism for the stealthy type.

Source: Flight International