Lockheed Martin has won a $920 million contract from the US Navy to manufacture 94 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets for production testing, the US Defense Department of Defense announced Thursday.
The advance acquisition contract is being awarded for long lead time, materials, parts, components, and effort for the manufacture and delivery of 94 F-35 Lightning II low-rate initial production aircraft.
Fifty-five of the aircraft will go to the US Navy and Marines, while the remaining will be shared out among the Australia, Norway, Italy, the UK, Turkey and various foreign military sales customers.
US law defines “low-rate initial production” as a phase in which major acquisitions are delivered in limited quantities for operational testing and evaluation before increasing the full production volumes. Lockheed has planned to complete the test production order by May, 2019.
The US Government and Accountability Office (GAO) said Tuesday that F-35 jet development project as one of two programs that has cost US taxpayers “hundreds of millions of dollars,” because of disputes between the military’s operational testing department and program directors.