Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, touted the cost savings the department has achieved in recent years. Although the department is buying more aircraft with each purchase, its price per plane has decreased substantially in recent years.
“This agreement represents our continued commitment to reduce F-35 costs aggressively and incentivize industry to meet required performance,” Lord said.
The program is still having problems in reaching a defense-wide goal to keep 80 percent of the fighter jets mission-capable. The Air Force, in particular, has long struggled to keep its aging jets battle-worthy.
But the F-35 is a relatively new jet, with new models only recently starting to roll off Lockheed’s production line at a full rate. The Defense Department said it is lagging in the production of certain spare parts, including the cockpit canopy, engine fuel tubes and wingtip lenses, Lord said Tuesday.
The department has also been working to remedy certain production challenges created by the departure of Turkey from the F-35 program. Turkey was shut out of the program earlier this year after it agreed to buy a Russian-made missile system.