Pentagon & Lockheed agree to build 375 F-35s

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The U.S. Department of Defense & Lockheed Martin Corp. agreed Monday to build 375 F-35 fighter jets over three years. 

Inflation & slower production are expected to raise the price of the most common version of the aircraft. 

William LaPlante, the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer, said the Department & Lockheed Martin reached a handshake agreement for 375 F-35s. 

Reuters reported Monday that the $30 billion deal was close.

The aviation industry gathered for the Farnborough Airshow, hoping to display confidence after COVID-19, even though the only records likely to be broken are for sweltering temperatures. 

"Handshake" deals are a starting point for finalising contract pricing & award, which may take weeks or months.

The deal's final value & each jet variant's price are unknown. The F-35A version flies from runways. 

2007's first version cost $221 million. Since then, increased production & know-how have helped the stealthy fifth-generation fighter's price fall to $79 million. 

The Pentagon said the final aircraft quantity in this agreement could change based on "Congressional budget adjustments & international partner orders." 

"Despite COVID-19 impacts & decreased F-35 quantities, the F-35 enterprise achieved a cost per jet below record-breaking inflation trends," Lockheed said.

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