US F-35 fighter jets are likely to be purchased by fewer overseas government due to surge in the dollar value, a senior Lockheed Martin executive said yesterday.
The strengthening of dollar value has resulted into jets becoming more expensive.
Further, this could threaten plans to boost output of the stealth jet and in turn lower its production cost to $US85 million ($110m) per plane or less by 2019.
Half of the planes due to be delivered over the next five years will be for overseas air forces in nations including the Britain, Israel, Australia and Japan that pay Washington for the jets in dollars.
"We have had some buyers come up and say it could affect their buy.” said Jeff Babione, general manager of the F-35 program at Lockheed Martin was quoted as saying by The Australian Business Review today.
Mr Babione didn’t mention any countries but said there had been no cuts. However, some buyers such as Italy had already trimmed the number they planned to buy because of domestic budget issues.
Increasing yearly production from about 66 jets this year to more than 150 at the start of the next decade is crucial to lowering the costs of the expensive military program.
Mr Babione said Lockheed’s only option was to continue pushing prices down via efficiencies, higher production and procurement changes such as bulk sales to multiple countries.
Lockheed and partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems are in talks with the Pentagon about investing another $US170m to cut production costs, repeating an existing program. The Pentagon has decided not to invest its own money in the effort.