The F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin have finalized the contract for the production and delivery for up to 398 F-35s for $30 billion, including US, international partners and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) aircraft in Lots 15 and 16, with the option for Lot 17, Report informs via European Defense Review.
“The F-35 delivers unsurpassed capability to our warfighters and operational commanders,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Mike Schmidt, program executive officer, F-35 Joint Program Office. “This contract strikes the right balance between what’s best for the US taxpayers, military services, allies and our foreign military sales customers. 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.”
The agreement includes 145 aircraft for Lot 15, 127 for Lot 16, and up to 126 for the Lot 17 contract option, including the first F-35 aircraft for Belgium, Finland and Poland.
Lot 15-17 aircraft will be the first to include Technical Refresh-3 (TR-3), the modernized hardware needed to power Block 4 capabilities. TR-3 includes a new integrated core processor with greater computing power, a panoramic cockpit display and an enhanced memory unit.
These aircraft will add to the growing global fleet, currently at 894 aircraft after 141 deliveries in 2022. 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.
The finalized contract caps off a year of the F-35 delivering combat-proven airpower around the world and continued international growth. This year, Finland, Germany and Switzerland signed Letters of Offer and Acceptance (LOAs) as an important step in their procurement of F-35 aircraft.
F-35 program participants currently include 17 countries. To date, more than 1,870 pilots and 13,500 maintainers have been trained, and the F-35 fleet has surpassed more than 602,000 cumulative flight hours.