Home Air Lockheed nabs $30B F-35 deal as it halts deliveries over F-35B crash

Lockheed nabs $30B F-35 deal as it halts deliveries over F-35B crash

F-35B assembly line
Photo: Lockheed Martin

The US Department of Defense’s F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin have finalized a contract for the delivery of up to 398 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

The contract, worth up to $30 billion, will include deliveries for international partners and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) aircraft in Lots 15 and 16, with the option for Lot 17.

It 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.

Lockheed and the Pentagon announced the deal as the company admitted it is halting deliveries of new aircraft over the recent crash of an F-35B vertical takeoff and landing variant of the fifth-generation fighter at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth earlier this month.

The aircraft, which was still owned by Lockheed Martin at the time of the crash, experienced a mishap during a vertical landing maneuver that was caught on video. The company is still investigating the cause of the crash.

The company also admitted it delivered 141 aircraft this year, seven less than contractually required, in a delay caused by the December 16 crash.

“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 company said in a statement.

Detailing the aircraft to be delivered under the latest contract, Lockheed said airframes from Lot 15-17 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.

“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 finalized contract caps off a successful year for Lockheed Martin, with Finland, Germany and Switzerland picking the F-35 over competing options.

“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 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.”