Expect details of the Pentagon's $3.8 billion low-rate, initial production (LRIP) 5 contract next week. The Pentagon issued the final payment of $127.7 million was announced in the Pentagon's daily contracts release this evening.
This contract with Lockheed Martin covers only the airframe; contract negotiations with Pratt&Whitney for the F135 engine purchase are ongoing.
The LRIP 5 contract comes after a year of contentious negotiations as Pentagon officials pushed for the contractor to take on more risk in the program. LRIP 5 will provide for 32 aircraft. This all-U.S. order includes 22 conventional-takeoff-and-landing versions for the Air Force, seven carrier variants for the Navy and three short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing versions for the Marine Corps.
The average unit cost across this buy is about $118 million. The program office has not yet released the cost per aircraft for the different variants. Those details are expected next week.
Meanwhile, program officials say that they expect to declare the F-35A training wing at Eglin AFB, Fla., ready to produce instructor pilots by year end as earlier proposed.
Lockheed Martin officials say they expect to deliver the 30 aircraft promised in 2013 by year-end. Only twenty have been turned over to the Pentagon thus far. But, a program official says only a few checkout flights remain along with the final paperwork to officially shift ownership of the aircraft to the Defense Dept.