Lockheed lands $23 billion F-35 order

Lockheed Martin Corp. has been awarded a $22.7 billion contract from the Department of Defense for hundreds of F-35 stealth fighter jets.

The deal comes in the form of what’s called an Undefinitized Contract Action, or UCA, the Pentagon said Wednesday. This type of agreement provides funding while the final details of a contract are hammered out. Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT), the world’s largest defense contractor, will receive $6 billion of the award immediately.

This deal covers 255 F-35s spanning all Lot 12 aircraft, as well as some aircraft that will be included in Lots 13 and 14. Lockheed manufactures the jets in batches so it can negotiate bulk purchases from suppliers and keep the price per plane down.

The F-35 is the most expensive weapons program in Pentagon history, so the costs are always under intense scrutiny. Lockheed and the Pentagon tout the F-35 as more than a fighter jet — it’s the most advanced fighter aircraft ever built, featuring stealth technology,…

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