The Pentagon’s latest handshake with F-35 prime contractor Lockheed Martin for the next batch of 43 of the single-engine, stealthy fighters comes as the program’s Joint Program Office (JPO) continues to slowly implement a fix to engines in its test fleet.

Low-rate, initial production (LRIP) lot 8 pricing will be released once the final contract details are firm, according to a statement from F-35 spokeswoman Kyra Hawn. The price for each of the three F-35 variants is roughly 3.6% less expensive than in LRIP 7; this should put the cost of an F-35A in LRIP 8 at about $93.3 million, an F-35B at $100.5 million and an F-35C at $111.1 million.

This lot includes the initial orders for the first two F-35 foreign military sales countries; Israel is slated to get two F-35As, and Japan its first four F-35As. The U.S. order is for 29 of the jets — 19 As for the Air Force, six Bs for the Marine Corps and four Cs for the Navy. Also included are two F-35As each for Norway and Italy, as well as four F-35Bs for the United Kingdom, Hawn says.

This lot is for fiscal 2014 buys and deliveries should be complete by the end of fiscal 2016.

The LRIP deal comes as the F-35 team plans for its first F-35C deployment on a carrier. The F-35C is slated to execute its first arrested landing on a carrier deck on the USS Nimitz on Nov. 3 off the coast of San Diego. Developmental testing is slated to last until Nov. 17, according to Navy officials. The F-35s to be used on the carrier will employ the newly redesigned tail hook made by Lockheed Martin. The original design was scrapped after it failed to snag the arresting wire repeatedly.

Lorraine Martin, F-35 executive vice president for Lockheed Martin, says she intends to drop the price of the F-35A to $80 million in fiscal year 2019 as part of her goal to match or beat the price of any so-called fourth generation fighter — such as the Gripen or Super Hornet — that might be in production at that time and compete with the F-35. She has initiated a Blueprint for Affordability (BPA) to gather cost-saving initiatives throughout the program.

Through the BPA, she intends to commit to pricing with the government based on the cost reductions anticipated by these initiatives. One example is a $342,000 investment made by Lockheed to shift from forging to using additive manufacturing to fabricate canopy bowframes for the F-35. That change is expected to save $31.5 million across the program. In another example, a new forging method for the rudder spar made by Kongsberg cost $360,200 in company funds, and should result in a total program savings of $204.8 million, Martin says. "We don’t get many like this. This is huge," she said.

The industry team is investing the funding in these initiatives and will not get it back without producing the actual savings, she said. The first contract to which she will commit based on these projections will be the next LRIP lot, batch 9.

The program office did not release contract terms addressing who would cover the cost of deficiencies discovered during flight testing for LRIP 8 aircraft.

The LRIP 8 deal with Lockheed comes on the heels of the government’s announced agreement with engine prime manufacturer Pratt & Whitney for the LRIP 7 batch of F135 engines. The price of the 36 engines in that deal is $18.8 million, including the more expensive F-35B propulsion system used for short takeoff and vertical landings on that specialized variant. The total cost for LRIP 7 engines is about $943 million, the program office said.

Meanwhile, the program office has continued to methodically "burn in" a fix to the F135s in its flight test fleet after a June 23 engine fire in an F-35A prompted a temporary fleetwide grounding.

The burn-in procedure is methodical but necessary as the quickest way to get to get the test jets off their flight restrictions. The aircraft have been limited to Mach 1.6 and 3.2g; they are also subject to frequent engine borescope inspections, limiting the items that can be handled in flight testing.

The cause of the engine explosion was excessive friction in the F135 on a brand-new F-35A. When a pilot conducted a standard ridge-riding maneuver — requiring a combination of yaw, roll and g force — unanticipated rubbing began inside the third-stage integrally bladed rotor (IBR) between stators and the abradable strip lining the engine casing. This continued for three weeks until the fire; the final failure in the rotor was caused by micro-cracking. Heat in that engine section exceeded 1,900F, almost twice the expected temperature. The pilot egressed unharmed; it is likely the aircraft will be used for spares.

This problem was not detected on an F-35 earlier because the combination of low hours on an engine with such a maneuver had not been encountered, Bennett Croswell, president of Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, said in September. Because the aircraft had so few flight hours, a suitable trench for the stator tips had not been "burned in" to the engine’s polyimide foam for a proper seal. In earlier development aircraft, the trench had been slowly burned in as the aircraft were gradually introduced to more taxing maneuvers.

Thus far, the program office is working on the burn-in, or "rub in," fix for the engine on its fourth test aircraft, Hawn says. She says a preferred manufacturing fix is being tested for yet-to-be produced F135s and for retrofitting into existing engines. A prototype of it is slated for flight on an F-35 within the next week. Officials will then validate the fix and determine when it can be added to aircraft in the production line.

Pratt has agreed to pay for the retrofits.

The Pentagon’s latest handshake with F-35 prime contractor Lockheed Martin for the next batch of 43 of the single-engine, stealthy fighters comes as the program’s Joint Program Office (JPO) continues to slowly implement a fix to engines in its test fleet.

Low-rate, initial production (LRIP) lot 8 pricing will be released once the final contract details are firm, according to a statement from F-35 spokeswoman Kyra Hawn. The price for each of the three F-35 variants is roughly 3.6% less expensive than in LRIP 7; this should put the cost of an F-35A in LRIP 8 at about $93.3 million, an F-35B at $100.5 million and an F-35C at $111.1 million.

This lot includes the initial orders for the first two F-35 foreign military sales countries; Israel and Japan are each slated to receive their first two F-35As. The U.S. order is for 29 of the jets — 19 As for the Air Force, six Bs for the Marine Corps and four Cs for the Navy. Also included are two F-35As each for Norway and Italy, as well as four F-35Bs for the United Kingdom, Hawn says.

This lot is for fiscal 2014 buys and deliveries should be complete by the end of fiscal 2016.

The LRIP deal comes as the F-35 team plans for its first F-35C deployment on a carrier. The F-35C is slated to execute its first arrested landing on a carrier deck on the USS Nimitz on Nov. 3 off the coast of San Diego. Developmental testing is slated to last until Nov. 17, according to Navy officials. The F-35s to be used on the carrier will employ the newly redesigned tail hook made by Lockheed Martin. The original design was scrapped after it failed to snag the arresting wire repeatedly.

Lorraine Martin, F-35 executive vice president for Lockheed Martin, says she intends to drop the price of the F-35A to $80 million in fiscal year 2019 as part of her goal to match or beat the price of any so-called fourth generation fighter — such as the Gripen or Super Hornet — that might be in production at that time and compete with the F-35. She has initiated a Blueprint for Affordability (BPA) to gather cost-saving initiatives throughout the program.

Through the BPA, she intends to commit to pricing with the government based on the cost reductions anticipated by these initiatives. One example is a $342,000 investment made by Lockheed to shift from forging to using additive manufacturing to fabricate canopy bowframes for the F-35. That change is expected to save $31.5 million across the program. In another example, a new forging method for the rudder spar made by Kongsberg cost $360,200 in company funds, and should result in a total program savings of $204.8 million, Martin says. "We don’t get many like this. This is huge," she said.

The industry team is investing the funding in these initiatives and will not get it back without producing the actual savings, she said. The first contract to which she will commit based on these projections will be the next LRIP lot, batch 9.

The program office did not release contract terms addressing who would cover the cost of deficiencies discovered during flight testing for LRIP 8 aircraft.

The LRIP 8 deal with Lockheed comes on the heels of the government’s announced agreement with engine prime manufacturer Pratt & Whitney for the LRIP 7 batch of F135 engines. The price of the 36 engines in that deal is $18.8 million, including the more expensive F-35B propulsion system used for short takeoff and vertical landings on that specialized variant. The total cost for LRIP 7 engines is about $943 million, the program office said.

Meanwhile, the program office has continued to methodically "burn in" a fix to the F135s in its flight test fleet after a June 23 engine fire in an F-35A prompted a temporary fleetwide grounding.

The burn-in procedure is methodical but necessary as the quickest way to get to get the test jets off their flight restrictions. The aircraft have been limited to Mach 1.6 and 3.2g; they are also subject to frequent engine borescope inspections, limiting the items that can be handled in flight testing.

The cause of the engine explosion was excessive friction in the F135 on a brand-new F-35A. When a pilot conducted a standard ridge-riding maneuver — requiring a combination of yaw, roll and g force — unanticipated rubbing began inside the third-stage integrally bladed rotor (IBR) between stators and the abradable strip lining the engine casing. This continued for three weeks until the fire; the final failure in the rotor was caused by micro-cracking. Heat in that engine section exceeded 1,900F, almost twice the expected temperature. The pilot egressed unharmed; it is likely the aircraft will be used for spares.

This problem was not detected on an F-35 earlier because the combination of low hours on an engine with such a maneuver had not been encountered, Bennett Croswell, president of Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, said in September. Because the aircraft had so few flight hours, a suitable trench for the stator tips had not been "burned in" to the engine’s polyimide foam for a proper seal. In earlier development aircraft, the trench had been slowly burned in as the aircraft were gradually introduced to more taxing maneuvers.

Thus far, the program office is working on the burn-in, or "rub in," fix for the engine on its fourth test aircraft, Hawn says. She says a preferred manufacturing fix is being tested for yet-to-be produced F135s and for retrofitting into existing engines. A prototype of it is slated for flight on an F-35 within the next week. Officials will then validate the fix and determine when it can be added to aircraft in the production line.

Pratt has agreed to pay for the retrofits.