Pentagon finalizes $7.8 bln in F-35 contracts with Lockheed


WASHINGTON, Sept 27 (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Friday saidit had finalized two contracts with Lockheed Martin Corp valued at $7.8 billion for 71 more F-35 fighter jets, citingwhat it called significant reductions in the cost of newradar-evading warplane.

The Defense Department said it signed a $4.4 billioncontract for a sixth batch of 36 F-35 aircraft, with the averagecost of the planes down 2.5 percent from the previous deal.

The two sides also signed a $3.4 billion contract for 35aircraft in a seventh batch, which reflected a 6 percent drop inthe average price from the fifth batch, it said in a statement.

The Pentagon said the cost of each F-35 conventional takeoffA-model jet would drop to $98 million in the seventh batch ofjets, excluding the engine. The government buys the enginesdirectly from Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United TechnologiesCorp, under a separate contract.

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