June 10, 2019 / 5:41 PM / 10 days ago

Pentagon agrees first multiyear purchase of F-35 jets, worth $34 bln

WASHINGTON, June 10 (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Defense has a “handshake” agreement that would cut the price of the F-35A fighter jet by 8.8% and bring the price of each Lockheed Martin Co aircraft below $80 million dollars a year earlier than expected, a Pentagon official said in a statement on Monday.

The agreement is preliminary and a final deal is expected to be sealed in August for the 12th batch of jets, one of the most expensive aircraft ever produced.

The preliminary agreement is expected to produce a three-year deal for the United States and 11 allies that the Pentagon said will be worth $34 billion for 478 F-35 fighter jets.

The first-ever multiyear agreement for the jets represents a shift in sales practices from annual purchases to more economic multiyear deals that lower the cost of each jet.

It will lower the price of the F-35A, the most common version of the aircraft, by 8.8% to $81.35 million from $89.2 million under a deal inked in August 2018, Under Secretary of Defense Ellen Lord said in a statement to Reuters.

In the next two years, the price of each jet will drop below $80 million, Lord said. (Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington Editing by Bill Rigby)

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