The US military will be placing a $920.4 million order to procure 94 F-35Lightning II joint strike fighter combat jets.
Officials of the US Naval Air Systems Command announced the contract with the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics for long lead items involving 94 F-35 aircraft. The order involves conventional and vertical takeoff and landing versions, as well as carrier versions.
Long-lead items either are difficult and time-consuming to obtain, and are funded early in the aircraft design process to keep overall production on schedule. Contracts to build the 94 F-35 combat jets will come later.
The contract announced Thursday involves several different low-rate initial production versions of the F-35 for several U.S. military and foreign buyers.
This contract provides for 78 conventional takeoff and landing F-35A aircraft, 44 for the US Air Force, two for Italy, two for Turkey, eight for Australia, six for Norway, and 16 for other foreign militaries.
The contract also involves 14 vertical- and short-takeoff versions of the F-35B, nine for the US Marine Corps, three for Britain, and two for Italy. Finally, the contract involves two carrier-based F-35C aircraft for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
The F-35 is designed to replace US F-16, A-10, F/A-18, and AV-8B tactical fighter and attack aircraft. Lockheed Martin has been developing the F-35 since 2001, and the first fully equipped and battle-ready US. F-35 squadron should be ready next year.