The US Department of Defense (DoD) and Lockheed Martin have reached a handshake agreement for 375 F-35 Lightning II fighter jets. 

The details of the deal – including the price, the number of different variants and the recipients of the aircraft – are subject to change, the company said. 

The agreement precedes the signing of an actual contract. It is likely to be worth around $30 billion, Reuters reports, referring to sources within the industry. 

According to a report in Defense News, the signing of the contract is expected in late summer or fall 2022, while the aircraft are to be delivered over three years. 

The company also said that the price of the aircraft is going to be lower than expected, despite the impact of COVID-19 and inflation. 

In 2021 the cost of the F-35A, the most common variant of the jet, was approximately $78 million, while F-35B was priced at $135.8 million and F-35C at $117.3 million. 

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The production rate of the jet has been steadily increasing in recent years. In 2021, Lockheed Martin announced the delivery of 142 aircraft of the type, bringing the grand total of F-35s operational worldwide to 750. In 2022 the company planned to deliver 196 aircraft. 

The number of foreign buyers of the aircraft also grew, with Canada, Germany and Greece ordering aircraft since March 2022. Meanwhile, Czechia and Thailand have said they are considering placing orders in the future.