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F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Lightning II

International Partners

I. Level U.K.150 138
II Level Italy16090
III. Level Turkey100100
Czech Republic48..
Saudi Arabia100..
South Korea8060




Initially [in the 2001-2002 timeframe] Lockheed was always using a number of 6.000 JSF aircraft, and a 2003 news release stated that “As many as 6,000 F-35s are to be built for the United States and other countries, at a total cost of more than $200 billion over the next 25 years, making this the biggest military aviation project currently under way. The United States may purchase as many as 2,850 of the planes”. During the year 2006 the estimate is lowered : “As many as 5,000 aircraft with at least three design variants include unprecedented design/build cycle reductions, lowest cost of sustainment for 30-year life of fleet.” Subsquently, in the year 2007 the presentations state that “It is projected that more than 4,000 Lightning IIs will be ordered by the United States and international forces.” And by 2009 it is stated that : “Lockheed Martin expects to manufacture more than 3,000 F-35 aircraft..."

Many of the 25 countries who bought more than 4,400 F-16 aircraft could be future customers for the F-35. But by 2009 only 3,000 F-16s were in service, with some 1,400 having already been retired.

As of 2013 one forecast for the total production of F-35 aircraft projected a range from 3217 to 4950 aircraft. The lowest mentioned number corresponds to the planning numbers that the F-35 partner countries and the number of aircraft for which non-partner countries for which obligations have been entered into. However, it is now clear that some partner countries intend to by fewer aircraft than the JPO provided planning numberss. On the other hand, the export potential during the production phase, which for the time being provided until 2034, outside of the partner countries. The actual development of price and quantity in the next few years is uncertain.

As recently as 2008 Lockheed officials said the cost for the three versions of the F-35 would be between $45 million and $63 million each. Program unit cost [total program cost, including development] rose from $76.7 million in 2001 to $136.8 million in 2012. Flyaway costs, excluding development costs, rose from $62.1 million in 2001 to $110.4 million in 2012. The 2013 South Korean FX-3 competition provides a fairely robust apples-to-apples price comparison for 60 fully equiped commercial sale aircraft. The F-15 Silent Eagle aircraft unit price was $40 million, and the F-35 Lightning II aircraft unit price was $180 million.

JSF evolved to an international co-development program. The United Kingdom, Italy, The Netherlands, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Australia and Turkey have formally joined the U.S. and contributed money toward the program. These partners are either NATO countries and/or close US allies, and peacekeeping and war fighting more recently have been done by coalitions. The reason to have all of these countries in co-development with the US is that there is currently a big difference in the type of equipment that they fly. Although some countries fly equipment similar to the US’s, others fly equipment that is less capable. With JSF, they can all fly the same airplane; as a coalition, they can all be the same. With this in mind, the U.S. invited these eight countries to participate in developing the airplanes. That is to say, they are not just participants to buy the airplanes. They will participate in the design, build, and test of the airplanes. This is a marked difference from past programs.

And of course, there is expectation in industry of the economic benefits associated with being a part of a big program. With such economic opportunities at hand for the various aerospace companies, it was in most cases the ministry of trade — not the ministry of defense — that cast the deciding votes to join the team.

The JSF Security Cooperation Participation (SCP) concept developed requiring ~$50M investment per country. The goal is to provide an opportunity for friends/allies to participate in JSF with goal and to be “well informed” customers in the process. The SCP consists of JSF vision/framework formalized in a National Armaments Director NAD-to-NAD Letter of Intent (LOI). It also consists of JSF “business details” formalized in a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA). SCP dialogue was conducted goverment-to-government; Singapore and Israel are participating under the SCP designation.

Eight countries agreed to invest a total of $4.375 billion over 10 years in the $25 billion Joint Strike Fighter program. Britain pledged $2 billion, and is the only "Level I" partner in the program. Italy has pledged $1 billion as a Level II partner, and the Netherlands has also pledged to invest $800 million, also becoming a "Level II" partner. The "Level III" partners include Canada [which pledged $150 million], Denmark [$125 million], Norway [pledged to invest $125 million], and Turkey [pledging $175 million]. Australia also expressed interest in the program.

Other Potential Customers

Belgium In February 2009 manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp. said Finland and Belgium had become the latest countries to speak to the Pentagon about possible purchase of the multinational F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Denmark On May 28, 2002, Memorandum of Understanding documents were signed by the Danish National Armaments Director and the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, committing Denmark to participation in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) system development and demonstration phase. The commitment spans a period of 10 years.

Finland In February 2009 manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp. said Finland and Belgium had become the latest countries to speak to the Pentagon about possible purchase of the multinational F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Greece Greece received F-35 briefings from the US government in 2009.

Spain Looking eventually to replace its Harrier jump jets, Spain has had a contractual study in place since late 2007.

Norway On June 20, 2002, the Norwegian National Armaments Director and the U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology signed memorandum of understanding documents committing Norway to participation in the Joint Strike Fighter system development and demonstration (SDD) phase for a period of ten years. Norway dealt Saab a blow in November 2008 with a contract for 48 F-35s in a contest analysts predicted the Gripen would win.

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