Pentagon Eyes Three-year Block Buy of F-35s From Fiscal 2018

Reuters // May 29, 2015

The Pentagon said Friday it would talk to U.S. lawmakers about approving a three-year block buy of Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets beginning in fiscal 2018 that would include U.S. purchases and international buyers.

U.S. Defense Undersecretary Frank Kendall told reporters via teleconference from Oslo, Norway, that such a deal would not constitute a formal "multi-year buy," but would still require congressional approval.

A block buy of more than 400 jets would allow for "double-digit" cost savings from larger economies of scale when orders reach around 150 planes a year, said Kendall, who was attending an annual meeting of top U.S., international and industry officials on the F-35 program.

Kendall, the Pentagon's chief arms buyer, said the $391 billion F-35 program was meeting or exceeding performance and cost milestones set during a 2011 restructuring of the program.

It remained on track for a key milestone this summer when the U.S. Marine Corps expects to declare an initial squadron of jets ready for combat use, followed by the Air Force in 2016.

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