Lockheed promises to drop price of Navy F-35 in face of political pressure

Lockheed promises to drop price of Navy F-35 in face of political pressure
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The Navy’s version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will drop in price to $100 million per unit by 2020, according to Lockheed Martin’s vice president of F-35 strategy and business development. 

The F-35C carrier-based strike fighter — which costs $121.8 million per unit under Lockheed's latest $8.5 billion Pentagon contract, known as "Lot 10" — will see costs drop as production increases, Jack Crisler told reporters Tuesday at the Sea-Air-Space conference in Maryland.

The C-model is the most expensive of the three F-35 versions, because it requires larger wings and stronger landing gear to handle the stress of landing on aircraft carriers. The Pentagon also buys fewer aircraft compared to the Air Force’s F-35A, which makes up 85 percent of fighter jet purchases. 

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The F-35A, the smallest and lightest of the three versions, costs about $95 million each under Lot 10. Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, the head of the F-35 joint program office said in March that he wants an $80 million A-model fighter jet by 2020.

On the campaign trail and shortly after winning in November, President Trump bashed the F-35 program as being too expensive. He wrote on Twitter in December that costs were “out of control" and said he had asked Boeing to price out the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet as an alternative to the fifth generation aircraft.  

The Pentagon is now in the midst of a review comparing the F-35C against the Super Hornet.

Defense Department officials are separately negotiating the next block buy of 120 F-35s. Costs for the aircraft are expected to be more than $10 billion.