The Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract for the F-35 Lots 9 & 10 might be announced later this week at the Farnborough International Air show.

Joint program office officials may have two things to brag about this weekend.  The F-35 finally makes its debut at the Farnborough International Air Show.  Also, it appears the long awaited LRIP contract for Lots 9 & 10 F-35’s may finally be executed soon.

“We are in the end game. We all understand what the costs are in building that many airplanes, and now it’s just a matter of us working a business deal that’s fair to everybody. And that’s not always easy either,” said F-35 Joint Program Executive Officer, Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan.

Two years ago, the F-35B was supposed to make its first appearance at Farnborough in 2014. An F-35A fire on the runway at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida caused the Defense Department to ground all F-35s. The DoD cancelled the aircraft’s participation in Farnborough that year.  Officials felt it was unsafe to fly a single engine aircraft across the Atlantic with an unknown engine problem.

The LRIP contract was supposed to be completed earlier this year but was held up for cost review.

“It’s just taken us longer to explore all of the costs all the way through the supply chain to make sure that the taxpayers are getting a good deal” Bogdan said.

The agreement covers more than 140 aircraft valued at approximately $14 billion for US and international customers.  The timing couldn’t be better.  The F-35 program has needed some good publicity for quite a while and these two positives are a step in the right direction.

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“It’s a big deal. For many years people thought it was a paper airplane, and all they would hear about are the negative things about it,” Bogdan said. “Now they have the opportunity to see the airplane fly and to watch its incredible capabilities.”

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Top Photo credit: AFP Photo/Vincent Jannink