Delays in Delivery of F-35 to USAF Could Bring Down Lockheed’s Revenue in 2023

Defence Industry

Washington: The newest upgrades for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for USAF will cause the aircraft manufacturer to miss its 2023 delivery goal by up to roughly 50 jets, Lockheed Martin officials said.

The delays could bring down Lockheed’s revenue for 2023 by hundreds of millions of dollars. Lockheed originally planned to deliver between 147 and 153 fighters this year. But software problems with the upgrades known as Technology Refresh 3, or TR-3, are causing significant delays. The Pentagon announced in June that it would not accept newly built F-35s with TR-3 until the upgrades are completely ready.

Lockheed CEO Jim Taiclet said in an earnings call with investors that the company now expects to deliver 100 to 120 F-35s this year, given the TR-3 software issues.

Jay Malave, Lockheed’s chief financial officer, said the delivery delays will cost the firm between $210 million and $350 million this year, depending on how soon the company can start delivering fighters enabled with TR-3.

However, the company has not slowed production on the F-35, Malave added, and will store completed jets until they’re ready for delivery.

“There won’t be a production lag,” Malave explained. “There’ll be just a delivery lag based on the completion of the software integration testing that has to be done in the air.”

Next year, he added, Lockheed will likely end up delivering more than the 156 fighters it previously planned to build and deliver in 2024.

“Our team remains fully dedicated to delivering the first TR-3 aircraft in 2023,” Taiclet said. “We have completed 58 flight tests on four different aircraft in the TR-3 configuration, including a successful flight test for the most recent software release that happened in May.”

TR-3 is the program’s name for a package of upgrades that are intended to give the F-35 better displays, computer memory and processing power, and is necessary before a more extensive modernization known as Block 4 can be added.

But the schedule for rolling out TR-3, originally due in April 2023, has slipped. The F-35 Joint Program Office now expects it to arrive in December 2023 at the earliest, or perhaps April 2024.