The US Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin have finalized a $30 billion contract to deliver up to 398 F-35 Lightning II aircraft.
“The F-35 delivers unsurpassed capability to our warfighters and operational commanders,” F-35 Joint Program Executive Officer USAF Lt. Gen. Mike Schmidt stated.
“This contract strikes the right balance between what’s best for the US taxpayers, military services, allies and our foreign military sales customers.”
According to Lockheed Martin, Lots 15 to 17 are the first tranches equipped with the company’s Technical Refresh-3 (TR-3) package under the Block 4 capability requirement.
The TR-3 involves a new integrated core processor with enhanced computing power, an updated memory unit, and a panoramic cockpit display.
“The F-35 is the world’s premier multi-mission, 5th-generation weapon system, and the modernized Block 4 capabilities these new aircraft will bring to bear strengthens not just capability, but interoperability with our allies and partners across land, sea, air and cyber domains,” Schmidt said.
Validating F-35 Capability
Once shipped, the future F-35s will add to the current 894 F-35s deployed globally.
“Continuing to add new countries to our global F-35 fleet further validates the capability and affordability of this aircraft in providing 21st Century Security to nations and allies,” Lockheed Martin F-35 Program General Manager and Vice President Bridget Lauderdale added.
Pause in Deliveries
The agreement follows a December announcement halting the delivery of new F-35s due to a fifth-generation vertical takeoff and landing F-35B crash at US Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth.
The incident led to Lockheed Martin’s planned delivery of 148 F-35s in 2022 being reduced to 141.
“The F-35 team was on track to meet the commitment of 148 aircraft as planned; however, due to a temporary pause in flight operations, which is still in effect, necessary acceptance flight tests could not be performed,” a statement from the company said.