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Despite the F-35 program’s recent troubles Israel committed to their buy of the advanced fighter. The government signed a contract with the U.S. for up to 95 of the aircraft. The initial buy will be for twenty and the contract has a value of over $3 billion.
In July at the Farnborough Air Show the United States had said that they were close to completing the contract. Israel and the U.S. had been in extended negotiations due to the desires of the Jewish state to be able to make its own modifications to the aircraft. Israel has a history of adapting their own technology to the equipment it buys from other suppliers but with the advanced F-35 the U.S. had wanted to restrict access to parts of the aircraft. The two sides had negotiated a situation where Israel could make some modifications if they want to.
The JSF program continues to have its struggles. This week the Pentagon announced that it had decertified the Earned Value Management System (EVMS) used by Lockheed Martin (LMT) to manage the program. The loss of certification is supposed to accelerate Lockheed’s plans to correct their system.
EVMS is used to track the cost and schedule performance on a contract. Lockheed has already had some of their performance fee withheld by the government due the schedule and cost growth with the F-35. The current decision shows a potential lack of confidence in Lockheed’s system that may lead to further issues with the schedule and total cost of the program.
Israel joins Canada in signing contracts to buy the F-35 in recent months while the U.S. executed a buy for thirty-two. Despite the program issues it continues to move forward to completing its test program and entering service with its users.