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Pentagon, Lockheed Martin continue dispute over F-35 intellectual property rights

14 November 2019
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The ongoing conflict between Lockheed Martin and the US Air Force over F-35 IP rights has contributed to the recently announced full rate production decision delay. Source: US Air Force

Key Points

  • Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon remain in conflict over F-35 intellectual property rights
  • This has delayed the implementation of a critical capability required for the programme to declare full rate production

The dispute between Pentagon and Lockheed Martin over F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) intellectual property (IP) rights has continued to delay the integration of the key computer code required for the programme to reach its full rate production (FRP) decision, Jane's has learned.

Lieutenant General Eric Fick, F-35 programme executive officer (PEO), said on 13 November that the initial integration of the 'F-35-in-a-Box' model into the Joint Simulation Environment (JSE) has been held up in a dispute between the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin over the IP for nine individual algorithms. This has slowed the Pentagon's progress in getting started with the programme.

Dan Grazier, military fellow with the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) watchdog group in Washington, DC, told Jane's on 13 November that F-35-in-a-Box is the code for the JSE. The JSE is a US Navy (USN) facility that simulates high-end missions such as super dense, highly-integrated air defence networks that range restrictions or operational security concerns prevent from being performed on a range. The Pentagon delayed its FRP decision for the F-35 due to its lack of progress with the JSE, which is required to properly function for the Pentagon to move beyond the initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) phase.

Lt Gen Fick said that in order to get on contract with F-35-in-a-Box, the Pentagon had to accept less-than-government-purposed rights to progress, but reserved the right to challenge that IP assertion. He said the Pentagon brought in the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), which went through the paperwork, and worked closely with Lockheed Martin to determine whether the company could prove through their records that those software elements had been exclusively developed at contractor expense.

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