The Pentagon has taken over an effort to cut the cost of the F-35 combat jet, after rejecting plans proposed by Lockheed Martin and its partners, as it tries to make a program estimated to cost $US400 billion ($515bn) more affordable.
The US plans to buy more than 2,400 of the jets over the next three decades to replace much of its combat fleet. But after years of delays and overruns drew flak from politicians and Donald Trump, the military has been pressing suppliers to reduce the cost of producing and flying the F-35.
The aircraft’s sticker price has fallen in recent sales to the US and other countries, in part because of a contractor-led effort launched in 2014 called the Blueprint for Affordability that invested $US170 million to make the jets cheaper to produce.
Lockheed and the Pentagon announced plans in July 2016 to continue the program, with the company and partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems investing another $US170m over three years in cost-saving measures. The contractors said the initial plan saved $US230m and could be worth $US4bn over the life of the program. (end of excerpt)
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