ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy has awarded Lockheed Martin a $22.7 billion contract modification for 255 F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighters, the Defense Department said in a Nov. 14 release. Of the order, 42 aircraft are for the Navy and Marine Corps.
Naval Air Systems Command awarded the low-rate initial production contract modification for Lot 12 aircraft plus more added by Congress for fiscal 2018-2019.
The 255 Lightning IIs in this order include 36 F-35Bs for the U.S. Marine Corps and 16 F-35Cs for the U.S. Navy. The order includes 64 F-35As for the U.S. Air Force; 60 F-35As for Foreign Military Sales; and 71 F-35As and 18 F-35Bs for nations partnered in the F-35 program. Work under the contract is expected to be completed by March 2023.
The F-35’s production remains in low rate because it has not yet completed its operational test and evaluation.
The Marine Corps’ F-35B made its first operational shipboard deployments this year and on Sept. 27 Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 conducted the Lightning II’s first combat missions, over Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel. The Navy’s first F-35C fleet squadron, Strike Fighter Squadron 147, has been formed and is training in its new aircraft.