Lockheed Martin has received $20.1 million in long-lead funding to start building the first two Israeli F-35A Joint Strike Fighters.

"This is for long-lead funding for the two Israeli planes in LRIP [low rate initial production] 8," Lockheed says. "We received long-lead funding for the first 35 jets at the end of February, then Japan happened at the end of March."

The eighth F-35 initial production lot consists of 45 jets in total. Of those, 29 are for the US military services including 19 F-35As for the US Air Force, six F-35Bs short take-off vertical landing jets for the US Marine Corps and four F-35C carrier variant machines for the US Navy. The remaining 16 fighters are international orders including four F-35B aircraft for Britain, four F-35As for Japan, four F-35As for Italy, two F-35As for Norway and the aforementioned pair of Israeli aircraft.

The Italian aircraft are still awaiting for funds to be released. "Negotiations continue on the four Italian planes," Lockheed says.

Source: Flight International