F-35 costs are likely to go down and save the US Department of Defense nearly $2 billion. A new order for 40 fighter jets placed by South Korea will lower the individual costs for F-35 aircraft. US manufacturer Lockheed Martin will be tasked with filling Seoul’s order.
According to Reuters, insiders believe that not only will F-35 costs drop, but it will also add up to 10,000 jobs in the US. All around, it’s good news for the US Navy and Air Force, both of whom have been facing mandatory budget cuts.
The growing popularity of the F-35 means the $392 billion fighter jet program may not end up on the chopping block. Instead of cancelling planned orders for as many as 54 F-35 jets, the Pentagon will be putting them on hold for about five years.
F-35 fighters have already been ordered by the Japanese military. With South Korea’s new order, experts say the fighter jet is becoming the “gold standard” for modern air forces in the Pacific. Other powers in the region like New Zealand and Singapore are also expected to jump on the F-35 bandwagon.
The decision must be approved by South Korea’s government before the order is finalized, but the deal is expected to pass without problems.
Seoul had been deliberating recently about where to buy their fighter jets. Seeking aircraft that were both full stealth and fit within their budget, the Asian nation was forced to finally settle on Lockheed Martin’s fifth generation jets.
Although they are more expensive than fighter jets built by Boeing and Eurofighter, Lockheed’s F-35S was the only model to fit South Korea’s stealth requirements. As Motley Fool explains, South Korea was forced to cut back their wish for 60 fighter jets to only 40 units.
South Korea’s decision is no doubt a relief to both Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon. The lowered per-plane F-35 costs will make the budget crunch easier to manage and guarantee that the nearly $400 billion project continues.