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DoD to halt accepting F-35s equipped with Technical Refresh-3

US Air Force F-35A lifts off from MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. Although TR-3-equipped F-35 deliveries are paused, TR-2 deliveries will continue. (US Air Force/Staff Sgt Zade Vadnais)

The US Department of Defense (DoD) will in July stop accepting deliveries of aircraft equipped with Technical Refresh-3 (TR-3) hardware and software, four months after resolving another delivery freeze.

“Starting later this summer, F-35 aircraft coming off the production line with TR-3 hardware will not be accepted (DD250) until relevant combat capability is validated in accordance with our users' expectations. The JPO [Joint Program Office] and Lockheed Martin will ensure these aircraft are safely and securely stored until DD250 occurs,” the JPO said in a statement.

“Aircraft with TR-2 hardware/software will be delivered as planned. The government and industry team will continue to work [on] this issue until full resolution is achieved,” the statement added.

Deliveries of TR-3-equipped F-35s may remain suspended until as late as April 2024, the JPO said.

The nature of the issue or issues that caused the suspension was not disclosed. However, Lieutenant General Michael Schmidt, the JPO's CEO, told Congress in March that “the TR-3 delivery schedule has been affected by delays associated with hardware and software development as well as testing of the Integrated Core Processor – the brains of TR-3. The key risks ahead of us are centred around maturity and stability of the final integrated software, flight test execution with an ageing fleet of test aircraft and infrastructure, and delivery of TR-3 hardware to the production line”.

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