Lockheed Chief Executive Marillyn Hewson last week cited good progress in the negotiations and said the company expected to reach a deal in the near term.
Given the size of the program, Pentagon officials have been pushing for lower prices to ensure its future, given mounting budget pressures and mandatory budget cuts that could slice the Pentagon’s budget by $500 billion over the next decade.
The Pentagon reached agreement with Lockheed on the fifth batch of F-35s last December, agreeing to buy 32 of the advanced warplanes for $3.8 billion.
FURLOUGHS TAKE TOLL ON TESTING
Furloughs of civilian defense workers will likely result in a month-long delay in flight tests of the fighter plane, according to Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the Pentagon’s F-35 program office.
He said the program had caught up with its testing schedule after two separate flight grounding actions earlier this year, but he added the furloughs were taking a toll.
Civilian employees affected by the furloughs work on flight test controls at Edwards Air Force Base in California and Patuxent Naval Air Station in Maryland, so their absence is shaving a day per week off the schedule of possible flight tests.
“We don’t know yet what the final impact will be,” DellaVedova said. “We think we’ll be at least a month behind.”