WASHINGTON, Sept 25 The Pentagon expects to
finalize a contract with Lockheed Martin Corp for the
sixth and seventh batches of F-35 fighter jets within days, the
deputy director of the $392 billion program said on Wednesday.
Navy Rear Admiral Randy Mahr, the No. 2 official in charge
of the F-35 program, said all but two issues had been resolved,
and he hoped to get those addressed soon.
"We have a few minute things that we have to finish off
there," Mahr told a small group of reporters. "We just want to
get it done."
He did not identify the two remaining issues.
Mahr said the process of finalizing the agreement for 71
more jets had taken less time than during the previous contract
negotiations, but it was still taking longer than the Pentagon
Lockheed and the Pentagon announced an agreement in
principle for the 71 next fighter jets on July 30, and had hoped
to finalize the details within a month.
The agreement in principle covers 36 jets in a sixth batch,
with each warplane to cost about 4 percent less than the
previous lot, and 35 jets in a seventh batch, also at a 4
Analysts say the two deals will be worth a combined $7
Lockheed and the Pentagon hope to reach agreement on pricing
for an eighth batch of F-35 jets by early next year, he said.
Lockheed spokesman Michael Rein said there were 45 jets in
the eighth batch, including 16 for five international customers
- Britain, Italy, Norway, Japan and Israel.
Rein said Lockheed also aimed to complete the two contracts,
as soon as possible.
"We'll continue to work with the (Joint Program Office) on
bringing our final items to closure and believe, as they do, it
will take place in the near future," he said.