The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin should wrap negotiate for theupcoming batch of 32 early production F-35 Joint Strike Fighters inweeks, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz told Defense Newson Sept. 2.
The tranche ofF-35s, known as low-rate-initial production Lot-4 (LRIP-4), is seen asa crucial bellwether to the survival of the program.
Lockheed officials have said since April that the final price ofLRIP-4 will be more than 20 percent below damning 2009 Pentagonestimates predicting the planes would cost $76 million per unit in 2010dollars. Schwartz backed up this claim, saying the final price will bebelow the 2009 Pentagon estimates.
In June, executives fromLockheed said that the LRIP-4 deal was nearly finished. Schwartz didnot comment on why the LRIP-4 has not been signed.
When askedabout the progress of negotiations in late August, company spokesmanJohn Kent would only say that "negotiations are protracted and ongoing.This is the first of many fixed-price contracts, and it is critical forboth parties to get a full understanding of the terms and conditions asit will be the benchmark for all future contracts. We anticipate a fairsettlement soon."