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Lockheed Martin wins two contracts for F-35 upgrades

Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin Corp. received two contracts, valued at $32.1 million and $12 million, for modifications to F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter planes, the Pentagon announced.

Each contract, a modification to an existing contract, was announced on Monday and pertains to kits and special tooling for modification and retrofit of the planes. The nature of the modifications to the aircraft was not announced.

The cost of the $32.1 million contract will be shared by the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and non-Defense Department participants, with 9 percent of the cost charged to unnamed Foreign Military Sales customers. The $12 million contract will be shared by the Air Force and Marine Corps.

The increasing costs associated with the F-35 program have been an issue within the U.S. government. A Defense Department acquisition report earlier in August, an update to its 2020 budget, noted that the cost of the F-35 program grew by $25 billion in 2018, and is the "main driver" of a 4 percent increase in overall military spending.

After the report was issued, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, noted the need for "rooting out waste at the Department of Defense," citing the necessity of "budgetary discipline, a culture of cost awareness, accountability of department employees, and the importance of earning the trust and confidence of the Congress and the American people."

The U.S. military intends to have over 2,000 F-35s -- the Air Force, Navy and Marines each fly a variant of the aircraft -- replacing much of the military's aging fighter fleet, with hundreds more of the aircraft sold to allied military forces around the world.

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