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DoD awards USD1.8 bn for further F-35 upgrades

10 June 2019
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Lockheed Martin recently delivered the 400th F-35 (pictured) as Block 4 development continues. Source: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin has been awarded USD1.8 billion to continue Block 4 capability upgrades for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

The award, announced by the US Department of Defense (DoD) on 7 June, covers design maturation and development of Block 4 capabilities in support of the Phase 2.3 enhancement of the F-35.

Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in August 2026.

More commonly known as Continuous Capability Development and Delivery (C2D2), Block 4 will enable the F-35 to employ its full panoply of sensors and munitions. The contract notification did not disclose the specific nature of the Phase 2.3 work to be undertaken, and Lockheed Martin had not responded to a request for information by the time of publication.

A budget justification and approval (J&A) document released in February 2018, however, shows it to be related to the carriage of the B61-12 nuclear weapon on the F-35A for the US Air Force (USAF) and international customers. The F-35A will carry up to two such weapons in its internal bays.

The Phase 2 nuclear capability forms part of the wider Block 4 upgrade that is being rolled out in four increments (Block 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4). Block 4.1, which was launched in April 2018, is primarily software based, although it does also introduce some new capabilities, as well as correcting deficiencies to older ones carried over from the system design and development (SDD) phase of the programme that was completed in April 2018.

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