03:17 GMT29 October 2020
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    The US Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a contract worth more than $920 million to manufacture 94 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets for production testing.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a contract worth more than $920 million to manufacture 94 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets for production testing by the US military and several foreign countries, the US Defense Department said in a press release.

    “Lockheed Martin Corp… is being awarded a $920,350,132 advance acquisition contract for long lead time, materials, parts, components, and effort for the manufacture and delivery of 94 F-35 Lightning II low-rate initial production aircraft,” the release said on Thursday.

    Fifty-five of the aircraft will go to the US Navy and Marines, the release noted, while the remainder will be divvied up between the governments of Australia, Norway, Italy, the United Kingdom, Turkey and various foreign military sales customers.

    US law defines “low-rate initial production” as a phase in which major acquisitions are delivered in limited quantities for operational testing and evaluation before ramping up to full production volumes.

    Lockheed is slated to complete the test production order by May, 2019, according to the release.

    The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine and all-weather stealth multirole fighting jet that is undergoing testing and final development, according to media reports.

    On Tuesday, the US Government and Accountability Office (GAO) called out the F-35 jet development project as one of two programs that has cost US taxpayers “hundreds of millions of dollars,” because of disputes between the military’s operational testing department and program directors.

    On May 26, 2015, the United States and the United Kingdom began testing the F-35 jet’s ability to conduct amphibious operations from an aircraft carrier, Lockheed Martin said in an earlier press release.

    The F-35’s development has been beset by delays, cost overruns and technical problems. Critics of the program in the US Congress have argued that the jets are unnecessary and a waste of money.


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