The price of the final Tranche 1 F-35B Lightning II fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighters to be acquired by the UK is set to rise by 6%, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has revealed.
The British defence ministry stated that inflation, supply chain issues and the fact that Turkey is no longer involved in the Joint Strike Fighter programme had resulted in increased costs for the F-35Bs manufactured between Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lots 15-17. Evidence submitted to the UK government’s Defence Select Committee revealed that the order for 48 F-35Bs – of which 30 examples have already been delivered – will be completed by 2025, with an order for the final seven airframes due to be submitted later this year. These final aircraft, which will be produced under LRIP Lot 17, are expected to be delivered by 2026.
However, while overall costs for the fighters have almost halved, it has been revealed that outside elements have caused an unexpected upturn in production costs. In evidence, the MOD said: “The price of each aircraft in Lots 15-17 (delivered between 2023-2026 and inclusive of the engine cost) is increasing by around 6% compared to the 2021 F-35 Joint Program Office Annual Cost Estimate forecast. This is predominately due to increased manufacturing costs associated with inflationary pressures, as well as supply chain impacts following the withdrawal of Turkey from the programme.”
Lockheed Martin, which also provided written evidence, added: “On December 30, 2022, the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) and Lockheed Martin finalised the contract for the production and delivery of up to 398 F-35s for US military services, international partners, and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) partners in Lots 15 and 16, with the option for Lot 17. The agreement includes 145 aircraft for Lot 15, 127 for Lot 16, and up to 126 for the Lot 17 contract option, including the first F-35 aircraft for Belgium, Finland and Poland.”