U.S. Naval Air Systems Command has awarded Lockheed Martin $2.44 billion to begin buying advance materials needed to build 12 F-35 Lightning II aircraft in 2008.br /This second F-35 low-rate initial production (LRIP II) contract will buy a half-dozen each of the conventional and vertical-takeoff variants.br /“This is the first mixed lot,” said Lockheed Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) spokesman John Smith.br /The contract buys long-lead items such as key raw materials, machined items, associated ancillary mission equipment, sustainment support, special tooling and test equipment, according to the Pentagon’s F-35 contract announcement.br /Two F-35s are now being built under an April 2006 $550 million LRIP I contract, after the Defense Acquisition Board approved their construction in April.br /Funds for a 16-plane LRIP III contract were requested in the 2008 DoD budget now under lawmakers’ scrutiny.

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