The Pentagon has awarded Lockheed Martin a contract $368.2 million to produce five F-35A fighters and an F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) jet.
“Lockheed Martin is awarded a $368.2 million contract modification. This modification provides for the procurement of five F-35A Lightning II lot 14 aircraft, one F-35B lot 14 combat aircrafts and associated red gear for the government of Italy. Work is expected to be complete by June 2023,” Pentagon said in a statement Thursday.
Italy’s Five Star party had called for a halt of F-35 purchases for a year, owing to economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, on May 28, Italian defense minister Lorenzo Guerini said that the F-35 program would continue.
In the first week of May, the Navy’s ‘Cavour’ aircraft carrier completed two-year modernization to accommodate F-35B jets, 30 of which it has already purchased.
Italy plans to buy a total of 90 jets. It has currently taken delivery of 15 F-35 aircraft including 12 F-35A’s and three F-35B’s. Final assembly of the jets occurs at a facility at Cameri Air Base in the north of the country, which is due to become a maintenance hub for the aircraft.