F-35 Chief Says the Price Isn’t Coming Down Fast Enough

F-35 Chief Says the Price Isn’t Coming Down Fast Enough

The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin are still negotiating the price of the next batch of F-35s, but Vice Adm. Mat Winter, who runs the F-35 Joint Program Office, said he isn’t happy with Lockheed’s effort so far. “They could be much more cooperative and more collaborative, and we could seal this deal faster. We could. They choose not to, and that’s a negotiating tactic,” Winter said earlier this week.

The price of the Joint Strike Fighter has been dropping with each round of orders. The previous order, known as lot 10, included 66 F-35A jets, with an average price of $94.3 million per plane. The new lot 11 order that’s currently being negotiated is for 130 jets, and the Pentagon expects the price to come down further. But there’s no agreement yet.

Winter made his displeasure clear: "I am not satisfied in the following areas: the price is coming down, but it's not coming down fast enough; we don't know, to the level of granularity that I want to know, what it actually costs to produce an aircraft, and the number of quality escapes and what we call production line defects needs to get better," he said.

The lot 11 contract agreement is now months overdue. Orlando Carvalho, who runs Lockheed’s aeronautics business, said, “We still have a bit of work ahead of us.”