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Pentagon, Lockheed, move closer on next F-35 contract

U.S. Air Force

Lockheed Martin and the Defense Department are nearing consensus on a long-delayed contract for a fifth batch of F-35 fighter jets, Reuters reports.

Defense Undersecretary Frank Kendall told Reuters the Pentagon was “getting close” to an agreement. The $396 billion F-35 program is the Pentagon's largest weapons program.

Defense and Lockheed have been locked in an argument over the cost of the plane for a year, according to a defense consultant. The involvement of Lockheed President Marillyn Hewson helped defuse tensions, the report said. Hewson will become the company's CEO in January, following the ouster of Christopher Kubasik after admission of an affair.

Agreement on the terms would free up funding for work on a sixth set of planes, which Lockheed has funded out of pocket, according to Reuters. 

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