The Pentagon announced Thursday the U.S. has reached an agreement with Lockheed Martin on production lot five of the Joint Strike Fighter program meaning the U.S. officially bought 32 more F-35s.
Pentagon and Lockheed Martin negotiators have negotiated the contract for the past year leading to frustration on both sides. However, Defense Under Secretary Frank Kendall said Wednesday a contract was imminent.
“It was a tough negotiation and we are pleased that we’ve reached an agreement. It ends the year on a positive note and sets the program to move forward,” said George Little, the top Pentagon spokesman.
The break down for the fifth production lot will see the Air Force receive 22 fighters, the Navy will receive aircraft carrier versions and the Marine Corps will receive three short takeoff-vertical landing models.
Future Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson indicated a contract for the sixth production lot, which includes another 32 aircraft, is not far off. She said Thursday she expects the framework of the deal to be done by the end of the month.
Pentagon and Lockheed leaders rushed to complete these contracts in order to protect them from sequestration cuts should the Congress fail to reach a deficit reduction deal. The sequestration law stipulates that the cuts can’t touch previously obligated funds.
Settling on this contract means the F-35s funds for the fifth, and possibly sixth, production lots will be insulated from the $500 billion in defense cuts stipulated in the Budget Control Act.