* Details of deal yet to be negotiated
* Air Force to get 21 planes; Navy, 6; Marines, 3
By Jim Wolf
WASHINGTON, Dec 9 Lockheed Martin Corp
is being awarded a $4 billion fixed-price U.S. Navy contract
for 30 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, the fifth batch of
low-rate initial production, the Defense Department said on
The deal would provide 21 conventional models for the Air
Force, six carrier variants for the Navy and three
short-takeoff and vertical landing versions for the Marine
Corps, a notice in the Pentagon's daily contract digest said.
Details of the deal have not been worked out, said Michael
Rein, a company spokesman, referring to the government
announcement as an "undefinitized contract action" subject to
"This is welcome news for both Lockheed Martin and our many
F-35 suppliers and will help ensure we continue to meet
production schedules outlined by the program," he said by
The Pentagon currently plans to buy more than 2,440 F-35
aircraft in three separate models for the Navy, Marine Corps
and Air Force.
It is the costliest Pentagon purchase in history, at a
projected cost of $382.5 billion through 2035. The F-35 has
been developed with eight foreign partners to replace at least
13 types of aircraft, including Lockheed's F-16, for 11 nations
The Defense Department already has restructured the F-35
program twice in recent years. The fifth production batch fell
to 30 from a previously planned 42 because more retrofits and
changes have been required than had been projected.
The department and Lockheed will share modification costs
tied to certain required fixes that may emerge during work on
the fifth batch, the contract announcement said without
spelling out the cost split.
The Pentagon's F-35 program director said in an interview
published last week that the military should slow purchases of
the F-35 because of the number of airframe cracks and "hot
spots" turning up in testing and analysis.
Hot spots are potential structural flaws "that reveal a
durability or damage tolerance shortfall below the 8,000 flight
hour or 30-year service life goal of the F-35," Kyra Hawn, a
spokeswoman for the Pentagon F-35 program office, said in an
e-mailed reply to Reuters.