10:25 GMT29 February 2020
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    Lockheed Martin is aware of media reports suggesting that an order for 150 F-35A combat aircraft could be split with another company, the defense contractor’s F-35 Communications Director Mike Rein told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Rein was responding to media reports claiming that the Defense Department is pushing to split a $14 billion order for the next two batches of F-35 combat jets after failing to reach agreement on a single deal with Lockheed Martin. The story was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

    "We are aware of the media reports regarding the split of the Low Rate Initial Production 9 and 10 contracts, but as a matter of policy we do not comment on specifics concerning active contract negotiations," Rein stated. "We continue to negotiate with the US government on both contracts to reach a fair and equitable agreement for both parties."

    The Defense Department has been negotiating with Lockheed Martin for 150 US Air Force F-35A jets in the hope that ordering in bulk might reduce the price to $80 million per aircraft by 2020.

    The 150 aircraft represent the combination of Batches 9 and 10. Batch 9 consists of an estimated 63 aircraft that could conceivably be turned over to another designated lead.

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