U.S. Fighter Production Contracts Awarded

by: Matthew Potter
November 23, 2010

Category: Boeing, Business Line, Companies, Congress, Contract Additions, Contract Awards, Department of Defense, development program, Events, Federal Budget Process, Lockheed Martin, Military Aviation, production program, Services, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy | RSS 2.0

Two years ago the Obama Administration made significant changes to the U.S. defense budget as they came into office. One area that formed a major part of these changes was tactical aircraft. Production of the F-22 advanced fighter was capped and efforts were focused on the new Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). The three variants of the JSF were to equip the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

Boeing (BA) who made the F-22 along with Lockheed Martin (LMT) could see a future where they were not making any aircraft for the U.S. military. The F-22 and the C-17 transport were going to end and unless the won the KC-X new aerial tanker program contract to be awarded now in 2011 they would for the first time in decades not be producing a system for the United States military. Lockheed was the lead on the JSF as well as making the C-130J transport looked at one point as possibly being the only U.S. major aircraft manufacturer of combat aircraft.

In the last year things have changed quite a bit with those plans. Delays and cost growth to the JSF program led the Navy to get permission to keep production of the F/A-18 aircraft going with one more production batch ordered. These 124 aircraft will keep Boeing going for another five years.

The U.S. also placed the next annual production buy contract with Lockheed for the JSF. This option on the current LRIP was for another thirty-one aircraft and is worth over $3 billion. This contract includes versions for the all three American buyers as well as one for the United Kingdom’s navy. This batch doubles the number of LRIP aircraft ordered to sixty-two along with nineteen developmental aircraft. Twenty-two have been delivered so far to support testing.

The U.S. continues on a path to having their tactical aircraft fleets consist of F-22, F-35 and the F/A-18. As the JSF program gets on track and begins steady production their will be a rapid retirement of the F-15, F-16 and other older aircraft originally developed in the Cold War. Boeing and Lockheed and their support contractors will rely on the JSF and foriegn sales to keep their facilities going as well as maintaining their industrial base.

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