Navy F-35C Unit Price on Track for $100 Million by 2020
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The unit price of the Navy’s F-35C Lightning II carrier-based strike fighter is estimated to be $121.8 million for the Lot 10 of the aircraft’s production and headed lower as cost-reduction initiatives take hold and production ramps up.
“The F-35 unit price is on track for $100 million in 2020,” Jack Crisler, Lockheed Martin’s director of F-35 Strategy and Business Development, told reporters at the Sea-Air-Space Exposition.
By comparison, the Air Force F-35A unit price for Lot 10 is $94.6 million. The F-35 program has a goal of reducing the price of an F-35A to $85 million by 2019. The Air Force is trying to push the price down further to $80 million by 2020.
The F-35C is more expensive than the F-35A because of its larger wing and carrier launch and recovery features, but also because of its current low-rate of production compared with the F-35A. The F-35A comprises 85 percent of the Lightning II’s program of record of 3,170 aircraft of all versions.
Lockheed Martin has delivered 27 F-35Cs to date. Four are included on Lots Nine and 10 production. In January, the Navy reactivated Strike Fighter Squadron 125 to be the service’s second fleet replacement training squadron for the F-35C. More carrier qualification trials are scheduled for the third quarter of the year.
The Navy plans to be ready to begin pilot training in January and to begin to convert the first fleet squadron, Strike Fighter Squadron 147, in March 2018. Initial operational capability is set for 2018 or 2019.