US Defense Secretary James Mattis said the US will make an announcement this week about its $20bn purchase of Boeing Co’s F-35 fighter jets, a deal that would mark a strategic pivot in the US defence industry.
Mattis made the comments on Monday in Washington, where he met with US defense chiefs and other top US officials to discuss the F-15 Joint Strike Fighter program.
The Pentagon also confirmed on Tuesday that it was finalising a deal with Boeing that would see it purchase up to 12 F-16 fighter jets for its air force.
Mattises said the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, a twin-engine fighter that can be used as a strike fighter, was one of the biggest military acquisition programs in recent memory.
He also said the deal would also help boost the US military’s capacity to counter the threat of North Korea and to deter Russia.
Mattise said the United States was “a global leader in the area of defence procurement”, adding that it would be a “significant investment in our military capabilities”.
The F-22 Raptor, a jet fighter that the Pentagon is also purchasing for $6.5bn, has already been selected for a fifth-generation version.
Mattiss, who has made defence the top priority of his presidency, also said that a US strike force would be ready to go into action in the next five years.
The F/AA-18A/B Super Hornets are currently undergoing a major overhaul.
They are undergoing a significant overhaul and modernization and it is anticipated that this will include the introduction of an F-36B aircraft in 2020.