NORTH BERWICK, Maine — Pratt & Whitney has reached an in-principle agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense on a contract to build its sixth batch of engines for the F-35 Lightning II warplanes.

According to a joint statement from the F-35 Joint Program Office and Pratt & Whitney, the contract will call for 38 more F135 propulsion engines and is expected to benefit the North Berwick facility.

Pratt & Whitney’s 877,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in North Berwick is the largest under one roof in the entire state. The jobs provided by the facility serve countless families in the area and across the state.

Reuters published that Lockheed Martin Corp. made final its contract to build the F-35 jets in late July, but that the engines are purchased separately and solely from Pratt & Whitney as they are the sole producer of radar-evading warplane engines.

The deal, which officials have yet to provide comment on, is valued at more than $1 billion. The final terms are set to be completed in the weeks and months to come.

The contract, described in the press release, continues a history of reduced cost engine production and includes all costs associated with program management, engineering support, nonrecurring production effort, sustainment, and spare parts.

Two spare engines will be included in addition to the 36 engines that will be used for installation in F-35s.

Specific cost details will be released once the contract is final, however 32 common configuration engines, used to power conventional takeoff and landing, will be manufactured at a rate 2.5 percent lower than Pratt & Whitney’s previous batch of 35 engines. Additionally, six short takeoff and vertical landing engines will be produced at a rate of approximately 9.6 percent lower than the previous contract for three such engines.

Pratt & Whitney states on its website that the Department of Defense chose the F135 engine as the best engine for the F-35 due to its reliability and cost-effectiveness. According to the F-35 Program’s website, The F-35 Lightning II Program is the Department of Defense’s central program for defining affordable next generation strike aircraft weapon systems for the Air Force, Marines, Navy, and allies of the U.S. The F-35 is considered not only the most affordable, but also the most survivable, supportable, and lethal aircraft ever to be used across the globe.

This agreement, announced by the Pentagon on Tuesday, came only four months after Pratt & Whitney completed the contract that covered their fifth lot of F135 engines.

The press release included comments from Chris Flynn, vice president, Pratt & Whitney F135/F119 Engine Programs, and Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, F-35 Program executive officer.

According to Flynn, Pratt & Whitney hopes to continue to reduce costs and secure the contract for batches seven and eight even faster.

Bogdan stressed the importance of driving down costs and working together for the continued success of the program.

The company’s continued involvement in F135 engine contracts not only benefits the military with reduced costs, but the local economy as well.

The press release states Pratt & Whitney has delivered 107 production engines to date, powering 3,548 flights with its F135 engines and countless more hours in testing and development and that delivery of its sixth batch will begin in the fourth quarter of this year.

Distributed by MCT Information Services