US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin has signed a $49 million contract to develop a new variant of the F-35 fighters for an anonymous Foreign Military Sales customer, the UK Defence Journal reported on Wednesday.
The aerospace giant will be developing the new variant of the F-35 fighter planes as a part of the five-year project. The newly developed version is expected to have minor changes and it will be similar to the F-35I, an F-35A with unique Israeli avionics modifications.
Lockheed Martin has received over $49 million of Foreign Military Sales (FMS) funds for this contract.
“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 a Joint Strike Fighter aircraft variant tailored for an unspecified Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customer," the contract notice read.
"Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas (77%); Redondo Beach, California (14%); Orlando, Florida (6%); Baltimore, Maryland (1%); Owego, New York (1%) and Samlesbury, United Kingdom (1%), and is expected to be completed in December 2026. FMS funds in the amount $49,059,494 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year,” it added.
“The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) administers the FMS program for the Department of Defense (DoD). Under FMS, the U.S. Government uses DoD’s acquisition system to procure defense articles and services on behalf of its partners. Eligible countries may purchase defense articles and services with their own funds or with funds provided through U.S. Government-sponsored assistance programs.”
It is highly likely that the United States has given the order to develop of an F-35 variant for a country that has either already agreed to purchase fighters or is an existing customer for the US, as per the speculations in media reports.
The 5th Generation F-35 fighter has a combination of Very Low Observable stealth, advanced sensors, information fusion, and network connectivity, according to Lockheed. The 5th Gen aircraft is a supersonic, long-range, highly maneuverable fighter. F 35 has powerful dynamics which enables the fighter to carry out all types of mission.