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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.

Read the full article from Reuters.