Aerospace & Defense

U.S. state governors urge Biden to support Lockheed’s F-35 jet

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WASHINGTON, May 26 (Reuters) - Governors of U.S. states that represent both political parties have written letters to President Joe Biden supporting the purchase of F-35 jets made by Lockheed Martin Co (LMT.N).

Biden's $753 billion national security budget request, expected by Congress on Friday, will boost research and development spending to prepare for future warfare.

The separate letters, seen by Reuters, were penned by four Democrats and one Republican and point out that the jet is made in 48 states and Puerto Rico, and is responsible for more than 254,000 direct and indirect jobs.

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The stealthy jet is the most expensive Pentagon weapons program that will cost over $1.7 trillion over its multi-decade expected service life.

Earlier this month, Senators from both parties wrote letters to the heads of the Appropriations and Armed Services committees supporting the purchase of the jets. read more

At a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Frank Kendall, Biden's nominee for Secretary of the Air Force, said "the key to keeping the cost down in an air fleet is getting the numbers up. There is a strong correlation between the size of the fleet and the cost of the fleet. In my view we should get the cost down and keep the procurement at a rate that makes sense."

Biden's 2022 budget will request 85 of the jets for the U.S. armed services, with 48 going to the U.S. Air Force, people familiar with the requests say. The jets would be delivered in 2024.

Lockheed plans to deliver between 133 and 139 of the jets this year to both U.S. and international customers and partners. read more

(This story corrects jobs figure to 254,000, not 245,000 in third paragraph)

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Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington Editing by Bernadette Baum

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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