The F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) and Lockheed Martin have finalized the contract for the production and delivery for up to 398 F-35s for $30 billion, including U.S., international partners and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) aircraft in Lots 15 and 16, with the option for Lot 17.
«The F-35 delivers unsurpassed capability to our warfighters and operational commanders», said Air Force Lieutenant General Mike Schmidt, program executive officer, F-35 Joint Program Office. «This contract strikes the right balance between what’s best for the U.S. 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 Lightning II 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 this year. The F-35 Lightning II 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 Lightning II 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 Lightning II aircraft.
«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», said Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager, F-35 Lightning II Program. «There is simply no other aircraft that can do all that the F-35 does to defeat and deter even the most advanced threats».
F-35 Lightning II program participants currently include 17 countries. To date, more than 1,870 pilots and 13,500 maintainers have been trained, and the F-35 Lightning II fleet has surpassed more than 602,000 cumulative flight hours.