By Mike Stone
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Defense has a “handshake” agreement that would cut the price of the F-35A fighter jet by 8.8% and bring the price of each Lockheed Martin Co aircraft below $80 million (63 million pounds) a year earlier than expected, a Pentagon official said in a statement on Monday.
The agreement is preliminary and a final deal is expected to be sealed in August for the 12th batch of jets, one of the most expensive aircraft ever produced.
The preliminary agreement is expected to produce a three-year deal for the United States and 11 allies that the Pentagon said will be worth $34 billion for 478 F-35 fighter jets.
The first-ever multi-year agreement for the jets represents a shift in sales practices from annual purchases to more economic multi-year deals that lower the cost of each jet.
It will lower the price of the F-35A, the most common version of the aircraft, by 8.8% to $81.35 million from $89.2 million under a deal inked in August 2018, Under Secretary of Defense Ellen Lord said in a statement to Reuters.
In the next two years, the price of each jet will drop below $80 million, Lord said.
(Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Bill Rigby)