Lockheed Martin Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, is awarded a $49,059,494 cost-plus-incentive-fee-contract that provides engineering and other related activities in support of the design and development of an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft variant tailored for an unspecified Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customer. The majority of work on the new F-35 variant for the unnamed ally will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, according to the announcement, with some work also performed in Redondo Beach, Calif., Orlando, Fla., Baltimore, Md., Owego, N.Y., and Samlesbury, Britain. All of the work is expected to be completed by December 2026. FMS funds for $49,059,494 will be obligated at the time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.
While the Foreign Military Sales customer has not been identified, currently all F-35 Joint Strike Fighter customers receive the standard variants, except for Israel, which has its variant called F-35I ADIR AS-1 (meaning “Mighty One” in Hebrew). In November 2020 the Israeli Air Force announced the delivery of an F-35I Testbed aircraft amongst a delivery of four aircraft received in August. This example will be used to test and integrate Israeli-produced weapons and electronic systems on future F-35’s received. This is the only example of a testbed F-35 delivered to an air force outside of the United States. Israel has long been negotiating with Lockheed in particular its central computer brain, the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS).
Israel became the first country to select the F-35 through the United States government’s Foreign Military Sales process when a Letter of Agreement was signed in October 2010. On June 22, 2016, the Israeli Air Force received the first F-35A Adir for Israel at a ceremony at the Fort Worth, Texas, F-35 factory. The Israeli Air Force declared its F-35 fleet operationally capable in December 2017, marking the completion of an intensive integration and training effort conducted at Nevatim Air Force Base, Israel. The planned modifications in many ways mirror previous work Israel has done to its American-made F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, both of which are loaded with country-specific equipment.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is an American family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft that is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions. Lockheed Martin is the prime F-35 contractor, with principal partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. The aircraft has three main variants: the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35A, the short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) F-35B, and the carrier-based (CV/CATOBAR) F-35C. The F-35B entered service with the U.S. Marine Corps in July 2015, followed by the U.S. Air Force F-35A in August 2016 and the U.S. Navy F-35C in February 2019. The F-35 was first used in combat in 2018 by the Israeli Air Force.