The most advanced version of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 jet won’t be delivered until next April at the earliest and possibly as late as June because of persistent testing issues, the Pentagon said.
(Bloomberg) — The most advanced version of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 jet won’t be delivered until next April at the earliest and possibly as late as June because of persistent testing issues, the Pentagon said.
Lockheed had previously expressed confidence that the first versions of the fighter jet’s TR-3 model would be delivered this December after its software was validated in testing. The company acknowledged the slip in schedule Wednesday in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The aircraft needs the delay-plagued software upgrade to function fully with new cockpit hardware before it can carry more precise weapons and gather more information on enemy aircraft and air defenses. The upgrade will increase processing power 37 times and memory 20 times over the F-35’s current capabilities.
“We have made significant progress in the TR-3 program but have also experienced challenges with TR-3 software maturity during flight tests,” the Pentagon program office said in a statement Wednesday.
Read more: Pentagon Starts Withholding Payments on Upgraded Lockheed F-35s
Lockheed said in a statement that “we remain focused on receiving the necessary hardware from our suppliers to deliver this critical combat capability for the F-35.”
Lockheed is supposed to deliver nine TR-3 jets a month on average, according to the Defense Department’s F-35 program office, or as many as 45 by Dec. 31, with the potential for an additional 56 by July 1, 2024. The jets are being placed in storage as they complete production but wait for the TR-3 software to be validated in testing. The Pentagon is withholding the final 10% of payment on the unfinished jets, or about $7 million each.
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