| WASHINGTON April 10
WASHINGTON April 10 The Pentagon and Lockheed
Martin Corp could shave at least 5 percent off the price
of stealthy F-35 fighter jets in their upcoming annual purchase
contract as the standard version of the plane heads toward a
price of below $80 million, people familiar with the talks told
The Pentagon, under the direction of Secretary of Defense
Jim Mattis, has been exploring how to cut the costs of its most
expensive weapons program.
The deal for last year's annual purchase contract, struck
this February, put the standard takeoff and landing version of
the jet at the lowest price ever, $94.6 million, a 7.3 percent
reduction from the previous annual purchase price of $102
The current negotiations are for a batch of about 130
planes. The talks could shave 5-7 percent, or $660 million, from
the approximately 100 standard takeoff and landing "A-model"
jets for the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. allies, the people
The F-35 comes in three configurations: the A-model; the
B-model, which can handle short take-offs and vertical landings
for the Marine Corps and the British navy; and the
carrier-variant F-35C jets.
The number and type of jets in the deal as well as the
timing for an agreement have not been finalized, the people
said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are
The Pentagon's F-35 Joint Program Office said it remains
focused on getting the best deal for the planes and for
taxpayers, but would not comment on the negotiations. A Lockheed
Martin representative declined to comment.
President Donald Trump and other U.S. officials have
criticized the F-35 program for delays and cost overruns, but
the price per jet has steadily declined in recent years as
Speaking at a conference last month, Lieutenant General
Chris Bogdan, head of the F-35 program for the Pentagon, said
the government hoped that by 2020 the F-35 would cost less than
$80 million, a 16 percent drop from its current price.
Lockheed, the prime contractor for the jet, and its partners
including Northrop Grumman Corp, United Technologies
Corp's Pratt & Whitney and BAE Systems Plc,
have been working to lower costs by building a more
cost-effective supply chain for the production line in Fort
(Reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Frances Kerry)