F-35 Lightning: The Joint Strike Fighter Program
December 7/16: The Pentagon’s chief arms buyer, Frank Kendell, is hopeful that a three-year block buy of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will go ahead. Covering some 400 F-35 units for both the US military branches and partner nations, the agreement is expected to generate large savings through bigger economies of scale between the fiscal years 2018 through 2020. Negotiations with lead contractor Lockheed Martin, however, have been slow as seen in the year-long negotiations of the fighter’s ninth batch, while the government’s chief weapons tester, Michael Gilmore, has long argued about the need to test the planes before buying and building larger quantities.
The $382 billion F-35 Joint Strike fighter program may well be the largest single global defense program in history. This major multinational program is intended to produce an “affordably stealthy” multi-role fighter that will have 3 variants: the F-35A conventional version for the US Air Force et. al.; the F-35B Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing for the US Marines, British Royal Navy, et. al.; and the F-35C conventional carrier-launched version for the US Navy. The aircraft is named after Lockheed’s famous WW2 P-38 Lightning, and the Mach 2, stacked-engine English Electric (now BAE) Lightning jet. Lightning II system development partners included The USA & Britain (Tier 1), Italy and the Netherlands (Tier 2), and Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Turkey (Tier 3), with Singapore and Israel as “Security Cooperation Partners,” and Japan as the 1st export customer.
The big question for Lockheed Martin is whether, and when, many of these partner countries will begin placing purchase orders. This updated article has expanded to feature more detail regarding the F-35 program, including contracts, sub-contracts, and notable events and reports during 2012-2013.
The F-35 Lightning II Fighter Family
F-35 Family Variants: Door A, B, or C?
F-35s: Key Features
Pimp My Ride: Weapons & Accessories
The F-35 Family: Controversies and Competitions
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: The Program
F-35 JSF: Programs by Country
Home Base: The American Program
Australia (Tier 3)
Britain (Tier 1)
Canada (Tier 3)
Denmark (Tier 3)
Italy (Tier 2)
The Netherlands (Tier 2)
Norway (Tier 3)
Turkey (Tier 3)
Israel (Security Cooperation Partner)
Singapore (Security Cooperation Partner)
Exports: Beyond the Program Team
Future Sales Opportunities
F-35 Contracts & Decisions
FY 2013 – 2017
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