| WASHINGTON, June 9
WASHINGTON, June 9 Lockheed Martin Corp
expects to sign a contract with the U.S. government early this
summer for an eighth batch of F-35 fighter jets, but the deal is
unlikely to match price reductions seen on the last few
contracts, the company's top financial officer said Monday.
Chief Financial Officer Bruce Tanner said the company had
driven the price of the jets lower by 4 percent to 5 percent in
each of the previous three contracts, but savings of that
magnitude were unlikely on the next deal, which will be for 43
jets, given the lack of large quantity increases in the order.
"I'm not sure we will get to that level, but I do expect
we'll have a reduction from the previous lot on an
aircraft-to-aircraft basis," Tanner told Reuters in an interview
during the company's annual "media day."
Lockheed submitted a proposal for the eighth batch of F-35
jets in December. The company finalized a contract valued at
$7.8 billion in September for 71 more F-35s, including a sixth
batch of 36 jets, and a seventh batch of 35 aircraft.
In April, the Pentagon's F-35 program chief, Air Force
Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan, said he hoped to sign contracts
with both Lockheed and engine maker Pratt & Whitney, a unit of
United Technologies Corp, by the end of May.
Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president of Lockheed's
aeronautics division, said the two sides were "making progress"
and could sign a deal before the end of June, ahead of the jet's
international premier at two air shows in Britain in July.
"I think we're closing on a final settlement, but we still
have a little ways to go. Let's hope by the end of the month we
have it done," he told Reuters.
Lorraine Martin, Lockheed's F-35 program manager, told
reporters later that there had been some delays in getting the
discussions started with the Pentagon, but the two sides were
now "trading really productive offers to get to closure."
F-35 program spokesman Joe DellaVedova declined comment on
the timing of a possible contract agreement, or the scope of any
likely cost reductions, saying only that negotiations were
continuing with both Lockheed and Pratt.
"I think we'll resolve this expeditiously," Martin said.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by David Gregorio)