According to reports, The US Defense Department is to set to acquire more F-35 fighter jets from maker Lockheed Martin at much lower price than previous orders.
At the end of last year, Donald Trump said that the budget of the Pentagon’s most expensive defense programme was “out of control”.
Reports said that the latest order, 90 jets for $8.5 billion, means the price of each aircraft will be $95m, down from a previous $102m.
The US government predicts to spend close to $400 billion in the coming decades to develop and buy 2,443 of the supersonic fighter jets.
The major contractor, Lockheed and its allies including Northrop Grumman, United Technologies Corp’s Pratt & Whitney, and the UK’s BAE Systems have been working on building a more cost-effective supply chain. So, defense analysts had projected that orders would drop in price as production surges.
Meanwhile Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense manufacturer, said on Friday: “President Trump’s personal involvement in the F-35 program accelerated the negotiations and sharpened our focus on driving down the price.”
Lockheed stock plunged following president’s “out of control” Tweet in December, and then dropped further after Mr. Trump criticized about the military contractor at a news conference the next month. However, Lockheed’s shares have since improved.
Furthermore US F-35 project head Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan said in a statement that the agreement was a “good and fair deal for the taxpayers, the US government, allies and industry”.
Lockheed’s F-35 lineup has been dogged by postponements, and in 2014 an engine fire led to the grounding of the aircraft.
Moreover he UK government also aims to acquire up to 138 F-35s, and has already taken delivery of at least three jets for assessment and testing.