The Defense Department is planning a three-year block buyÂ of more than 400 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets beginning in 2018 as part of efforts to generate cost savings through bulk purchases, Defense News reported Friday.
Brian Everstine writes that Pentagon acquisition chief Frank KendallÂ indicated the international block buy plan would also enable U.S. and alliedÂ militariesÂ to increase fielding of the aircraft.
“It allows industry to plan with some confidence in the next few years of production,” Kendall told reporters at the recentÂ F-35 CEO meeting.
He noted that DoD will seek approval from Congress even as several partners have already expressed interest in joining the block buy effort.
Everstine reports that the total planned purchase, including international orders, is more than 3,000.
Andrea Shalal also reports for Reuters that Kendall said the F-35 program isÂ moving toward deployment with the U.S. Marine Corps and Air ForceÂ scheduled to sign off on the aircraft’s combat readiness.
Six F-35B jets have recently achieved a total ofÂ 85.5 flight hours as part of the Marines’ operational testing, the report said.