Thursday, April 25, 2013

Orders for 60 F-35s eyed

Lockheed Martin may receive a $9 billion U.S. order in June for 60 F-35 jets, consolidating the sixth and seven production contracts, said the Pentagon’s program manager. The number of F-35s may rise to as many as 71 if orders from other nations are included. Some of the money for the next group of fighters already has been obligated, sparing those funds from the across-the board reductions of sequestration. The F-35’s estimated cost for a fleet of 2,443 aircraft has risen to $395.7 billion, up 70 percent from $233 billion in 2001 in current dollars. Air Force Lieutenant General Christopher Bogdan, manager of the Pentagon's F-35 program, has pressed Lockheed Martin to do a better job containing costs. He gave a generally upbeat assessment of the F-35’s progress. Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer, said he feels "much more comfortable" about the F-35 program than he did a year and a half ago. (Source: Bloomberg, 04/24/13) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.