The U.S. Defense Department and Lockheed Martin have reached an agreement in principle on the production of 43 F-35 joint strike fighters, including the first two to be built for the Israeli Air Force. The deal is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks.
This will mark the eighth lot of F-35 aircraft to be produced. Production and delivery of the lot will begin in 2016.
"Today's agreement is representative of the program's ongoing maturation," F-35 Program Executive Officer, Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan said on Monday. "Once production of LRIP 8 aircraft is completed, more than 200 F-35s will be in operation by eight nations. We are glad the government and Lockheed Martin are completing a fair and reasonable contract for the eighth lot of aircraft."
According to Lockheed Martin, the eighth lot of F-35s includes 29 U.S. aircraft (19 F-35As, six F-35Bs and four F-35Cs), the first two F-35As for Israel and the first four F-35As for Japan, as well as four F-35Bs for the United Kingdom, two F-35As for Norway and two F-35As for Italy.
In the first seven lots, 166 F-35s were contracted. As of last week, 115 F-35s have been delivered, Lockheed Martin said.
In 2010, Israel ordered 19 of the state-of-the-art stealth fighter planes at a cost of around $2.75 billion, with an option of increasing the total number to 75.