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Lockheed Martin delays F-35 deliveries further because of TR-3 issues

Having already delayed delivery of the first TR-3 F-35 to the end of 2023, Lockheed Martin has said this will now happen in the second quarter of 2024. (US Air Force)

Lockheed Martin has had to delay again the delivery of Technology Refresh 3 (TR-3)-standard F-35 Lightning II combat aircraft to international customers as it looks to finalise software developments.

The manufacturer announced the move on 6 September, saying that TR-2 configuration aircraft will continue to be delivered as planned.

“We have updated our F-35 TR-3 schedule projections with a first TR-3 aircraft delivery between April and June 2024. As a result, we now expect to deliver 97 aircraft in 2023, all in the TR-2 configuration. We are producing F-35s at a rate of 156 per year and expect to continue at that pace while simultaneously working to finalise TR-3 software development and testing,” Lockheed Martin said. “Additionally, we remain focused on receiving the necessary hardware from our suppliers to deliver this critical combat capability for the F-35,” the company added.

News of the extended delay of TR-3 deliveries through to the second quarter of 2024 came weeks after the company had to trim its planned delivery rate for 2023 from 147–153 aircraft down to 100–120 aircraft, also because of delays in developing the TR-3 upgrade.

Up to that announcement in mid-July, Lockheed Martin had delivered 50 TR-2 jets to customers. It said at that time that it “remained fully dedicated” to delivering its first TR-3 aircraft in 2023. The company noted that it had not changed its expectation that annual deliveries will increase to 156 F-35s in 2025 and “the foreseeable future”. Lockheed Martin delivered 141 F-35s in 2022. It is unclear if this latest delay will impact this expectation.

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