After markets closed on Friday, Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) was awarded an interim payment of $3.7 billion for 50 of its F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. The planes are part of the company’s low-rate initial production (LRIP) batch 11. The payment allows Lockheed to continue production under LRIP 11 while it finalizes the contract terms with the U.S. Department of Defense.
Earlier this month Lockheed received an interim payment of $5.6 billion to pay for 141 of the fighters that are destined for U.S. military service.
The 50 planes included in Friday’s contract include one F-35B aircraft for Great Britain, one F-35A for Italy, eight F-35A aircraft for Australia, eight F-35As for the Netherlands, four F-35As for Turkey, six F-35As for Norway and 22 F-35A aircraft for other foreign military sales customers.
The F-35A is configured for duty with the U.S. Air Force and the F-35B is configured for Marine Corps and British navy requirements. A third variation, the F-35C, is a carrier model for the U.S. Navy.
The most costly U.S. weapons program ever undertaken, the F-35 program has come under fire for massive cost overruns that will cost U.S. taxpayers around $1.5 trillion dollars by the time the plane is phased out in 2070.
The good news, for Lockheed and taxpayers alike, is that the cost of the planes dipped below $100 million apiece in the previous LRIP batch (Lot 10) to $95 million. The per-plane price for those planes included in Lot 11 is expected to be even lower, although no specific number has been released.
All told, the Pentagon is expected to purchase nearly 2,500 F-35s.