Lockheed Martin may see more than $800 million in payments withheld through next June until it wins approval for the software powering its most advanced version of the F-35, according to newly disclosed delivery figures. From a report: The No. 1 US defense contractor is on tap to finish production of about 52 of the upgraded TR-3 model fighter jets by Dec. 31 and approximately 12 per month after that, or 72 more by June 30, for as many as 124 jets, according to the data released Monday by Russ Goemaere, the Pentagon’s spokesman on the F-35.
The Pentagon is withholding $7 million per aircraft until the new software is validated because the aircraft are being placed in storage until then. At 124 jets, that’s $868 million. Last month, the Defense Department withheld $7 million on each of the first four upgraded F-35s. The aircraft needs the delay-plagued software upgrade to function fully with new cockpit hardware before it can carry more precise weapons and gather more information on enemy aircraft and air defenses. The upgrade will increase processing power 37 times and memory 20 times over the F-35’s current capabilities.