USAF / Staff Sgt. Zade Vadnais
A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II fighter jet assigned to the 356th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron undergoes routine maintenance in an aircraft hangar.

DOD Funding New F-35 Depot Repair Capabilities

Jan. 4, 2024
Lockheed Martin has landed a new Pentagon contract worth nearly $70 million to procure materials and skills for Joint Strike Fighter jet depot operations at multiple military locations across the U.S.

Lockheed Martin Corp. has drawn another $67.9 million in U.S. Defense Dept. funds in order to procure materials and labor needed to establish “initial depot repair capabilities” for F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter components at various military service locations in the U.S. Those locations, according to a DOD announcement, are Orlando and Jacksonville, Fla.; Fort Worth, Tex.; Ogden, Utah; Havelock, N.C.; San Diego, Calif.; Warner Robins, Ga.; and Amityville, N.Y.

This award is expected to be completed in April 2028, the Pentagon noted.

Funding will be drawn from a previously approved “cost-plus-incentive-fee, fixed-price-incentive, cost reimbursable” contract.

The F-35 is a series of single-engine, Stealth-enabled aircraft deployed for ground attack and combat, and available in three variants. It is by far the largest and most expensive U.S. defense program, with Lockheed subject to steady scrutiny for cost overruns and the readiness of aircraft for service.

While F-35 production is expected to expand over the coming years to fill a rising number of orders, the Pentagon is also implementing an across-the-board upgrade of the F-35 weapons systems. The so-called Technical Refresh-3 (TR-3) changes will revamp the weapons systems hardware, including a more powerful integrated core processor, a panoramic cockpit display, and an enhanced memory unit, all of which anticipate the future Block 4 modifications to the aircraft munitions packages, which will introduce dozens of new, advanced weapons systems.

In line with the TR-3 changes, the entire fleet’s F135 afterburning turbofan engines will be upgraded by supplier Pratt & Whitney, via its planned “engine core update,” to improve the propulsion system for all three variants of the F135.

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