Amidst the development delays, budget and program cuts and other travails that continue to afflict Lockheed Martin and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, one investor and customer remains steadfast.
That would the government of Italy.
Lockheed was awarded a $28.6 million contract modification from the Pentagon on Tuesday to begin placing orders for parts and materials for four F-35A aircraft in production Lot 7, which won’t be produced for at least a couple of years.
It’s the second batch of F-35s Italy has placed on order, following three in production Lot 6.
Italy, of course, has committed itself heavily to the F-35 program. The country invested $1 billion in the development and testing effort that is still under way. It initially announced plans for purchasing 131 jets, a figure that was scaled back in February to 90 as the Italian government deals with its own financial issues.
The contract provides funding for acquisirtion and production of components for the Italian planes, which will be assembled in Italy.