The Department of Defense has reached an agreement in principle with Lockheed Marin to build 32 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters under the lot 5 contract for low-rate initial production (LRIP-5).

The agreement ends more than 18 months of contentious negotiations that led to complaints on both sides.

"It's been a long journey, but I'm pleased we've achieved an agreement that is beneficial to the government and Lockheed Martin," says Vice Admiral Dave Venlet, F-35 programme executive officer. "Production costs are decreasing and I appreciate everyone's commitment to this important negotiation process."

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For LRIP-5, Lockheed will build 22 US Air Force F-35A-model jets, three US Marine Corps F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) jets and seven US Navy F-35C aircraft.

The company had already started building the aircraft last December under an undefinitized contract. LRIP-5 also includes funding for manufacturing-support equipment, flight test instrumentation and ancillary mission equipment, Lockheed says.

Lockheed is already under contract to build 63 F-35s under LRIPs 1-4. Of those, 29 low rate production aircraft have been delivered along with 19 jets built under system development and demonstration contracts.

Source: Flight International