National Security

Pentagon, Lockheed Martin reach terms for new F-35s

Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon have finally agreed to contract terms for the next batch of 30 F-35 fighter jets for the U.S. armed forces, a deal worth in excess of $5 billion that is supposed to make Lockheed accountable for at least part of any cost overruns.

Neither Lockheed Martin nor government officials revealed details about the contract, which also includes one airplane for the United Kingdom and an option for one more for the Netherlands. Also included are maintenance and other costs for putting the airplanes into service.

Negotiations on the contract have been under way for months as Pentagon officials seek to rein in soaring costs on development, testing and production of the F-35 joint strike fighter.

The contract covers the fourth lot of "low-rate production" F-35s. The previous lots included purchases of two planes, 12 planes and then 16 planes as part of the normal strategy of slowly increasing production. The funds for the new contract were appropriated by Congress in the 2010 defense budget.

The department "believes this contract is a fair and reasonable basis ... and sets the appropriate foundation for future production lots," Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said in a statement.

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