Lockheed Martin has received a $49 million contract from the United States to design and develop an F-35 variant “tailored for an unspecified Foreign Military Sales customer”.

The company will perform engineering work and other efforts relating to the design and development of a new variant of the aircraft as part of the five-year project, the Department of Defense said Monday.

Don’t expect the new variant to be as different to the others as F-35B is from C for example. This is likely more like the F-35I, an F-35A with unique Israeli avionics modifications.

According to a contract notice:

“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.

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.”

Foreign Military Sales?

According to the U.S. Goverment here, Foreign Military Sales (FMS) is the U.S. Government’s program for “transferring defense articles, services, and training to our international partners and international organizations”.

The FMS program is funded by administrative charges to foreign purchasers and is operated at no cost to taxpayers.

“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.”

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Daddy Mack
Daddy Mack
21 days ago

It would be nice if they could focus on getting Block 4 rolled out rather than developing a new varient.
Its not like $50m is alot of money in the scheme of things given 1 jet costs between $80-100m?

Sean the real Sean
Sean the real Sean
21 days ago
Reply to  Daddy Mack

This is the F-16-79 version of the F-35 , tailored so that you can have an F-35 but not have an F-35 .

Tommo
Tommo
20 days ago

With right hand drive for the British Market perhaps Real Sean

Johan
Johan
20 days ago

A Dumb F35 as it will lose its teeth as its a poor Fighter in a dog fight, sounds like someone not fully understands what the F35 is

Mark Turbett
Mark Turbett
20 days ago
Reply to  Johan

Alright, I hear what you’re saying, but maybe they want a dedicated EW version? For defeating all that Russian-made radar and surface to air missile sets in Syria? Just a thought.

Sean the real Sean
Sean the real Sean
18 days ago
Reply to  Johan

If your dogfighting in an F-35 ; you dont know how to fight it . Stop thinking in 19th century analogies , it is not a 1980’s plane that took 30 years to appear in the wrong century like the Eurofighter . For it takes Boyd’s OODA loop as its genesis not his older Energy Maneuver theories that US mid 1970’s and European Early 2000’s generation of fighters standardized on . Said it once will say it again . Eurofighter is a public works program not a tier one jet fighter .

Callum
Callum
21 days ago
Reply to  Daddy Mack

That $50m might not be that much, but it’s effectively the down payment for a bulk order of that new variant worth a few billion

Daddy Mack
Daddy Mack
21 days ago
Reply to  Callum

How many jets are not being sold pending the release of block 4?
The UK certainly is holding off placing orders for more than the 48 with one of the reasons cited as it being more advantageous to wait until the Block 4 release.
$50m seems peanuts for development costs but given the rather vague article it could be an F35 painted in the flag of Saudi Arabia for all that can be taken away from it.

Callum
Callum
21 days ago
Reply to  Daddy Mack

Those Block 4 orders are effectively in the bag. This is opening up a new revenue stream from a brand new customer. From a business perspective, it’s far more logical to divert a little development capacity to a new variant than put everything into maybe marginally increasing the speed Block 4 is brought out.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
21 days ago

Well that mystery didn’t even last till the end of the article.

JRouleau
JRouleau
21 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Do tell?

eclipse
eclipse
21 days ago
Reply to  JRouleau

I don’t understand either; the only remote evidence I saw mentioned is that 99% of the work will take place in the US and 1% in the UK. But that doesn’t really mean anything since the 15% British and the rest American. Do tell, indeed, Spyinthesky.

David Steeper
David Steeper
21 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

IAF ?

Sebastian
Sebastian
20 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

think it’s Afganistan. They were qiuet unhappy with all the Old equipment they got

eclipse
eclipse
14 days ago
Reply to  Sebastian

I hope that’s sarcasm.

Paul T
Paul T
21 days ago

The only Two possible new Variants of the F35 that i have read about are (a) a Twin Seat version proposed for Israel or (b) the Standard F35 but with no Stealth Coatings applied with the Airframe staying the same but the Stealth Aspects are significantly reduced.

James Fennell
James Fennell
21 days ago
Reply to  Paul T

$49 milion far too small to develop either of those – it’s a minor integration of some national devices and / or removal of those not eigible for FMS.

Last edited 21 days ago by James Fennell
Watcherzero
Watcherzero
21 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

$49m is enough for a paper study to inform a purchasing decision with the actual physical development bundled with the order.

David
David
20 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Software changes and weapon’s bay alterations to incorporate Israeli munitions.

apsmith1966
apsmith1966
21 days ago
Reply to  Paul T

Who would want a non stealth version. It would lose its primary advantage, while gaining nothing.

td_07
td_07
21 days ago

Singapore, perhaps?

James Fennell
James Fennell
21 days ago

Its from navy procurement dept. so likely to be a ‘B’ for a carrier customer – this low cost suggests national weapons integration or some other local devices. South Korea, Japan, even UK?

eclipse
eclipse
21 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Are you sure it’s navy? Sounds dubious since the US navy operates only the C variant. If it is, indeed, navy it’s likely C. I can’t think of any countries in the world that would need the C variant, unless the U.K. has decided to fit cats to its carrier that can take F-35s (which almost definitely isn’t happening). If it was U.K. it would more likely be F-35A than B, since we already operate the standard Bs. Hope it’s the UK, as unlikely as either scenario is. Others that come to mind are Japan, since they’re now well into… Read more »

James Fennell
James Fennell
21 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

USMC is part of US Navy so could be a B or C (most llkely former). Comes from Naval Air Systems Command – see original here https://www.defense.gov/News/Contracts/Contract/Article/2884211/

Last edited 21 days ago by James Fennell
Meirion x
Meirion x
21 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Naval Air Systems Command, at Patuxent River, Maryland. This is where the F-35B is tested and crews trained. The UK 207 Squ. was stood up here, and based before 2019.
So a B variant customer most likely.

ATH
ATH
20 days ago
Reply to  Meirion x

Not sure much of this is true.
Pax River is a test base not a training one.
207 and the initial U.K. training was based at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, not Pax River.

Ryan Brewis
Ryan Brewis
17 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

It’ll just be the CATOBAR system. I can’t see France buying the F-35 in any form before hell freezes over, if that was what you were suggesting.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
17 days ago
Reply to  Ryan Brewis

That was my suggestion yes.

“In a 21 December notification to Congress, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said the US State Department had approved the sale of the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) to France for the future Porte-Avions Nouvelle Génération (PANG) carrier programme.”

AA Cunningham
AA Cunningham
16 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

“USMC is part of US Navy”(sic)

Both the Marine Corps and the Navy operate under the Department of the Navy but the Marine Corps is not part of the Navy. The Commandant does not report to the CNO.

Derek
Derek
14 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

It’s definitely to design and produce auto self-ejecting intake covers when you fire up the engine! 🙄

DanielMorgan
DanielMorgan
21 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Don’t forget Italy.

eclipse
eclipse
21 days ago
Reply to  DanielMorgan

Doubt Italy, they have already received both the A and B variants. We can basically eliminate any country that already operates all the variants that it could require. I know the possibility of some of the following are very low; but these are the ones I see as possible:
UK variant A
UK variant C
Japan variant B
Poland variant A
Singapore variant B
UAE variant A
South Korea variant B
Finland variant A
An entirely new country desiring F-35s

Last edited 21 days ago by eclipse
Jack
Jack
21 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

Explain UK variant C. What would it be flown from ?

eclipse
eclipse
21 days ago
Reply to  Jack

Not too realistic but a possibility and that’s why it’s on my list. QEs are getting cats and traps just not powerful enough to launch F-35s. Only reason is if they decided to go for cats and traps with heavier weight limits and so order F-35Cs. Much less likely than Japanese or South Korean F-35B modifications, which I think are the most probably. Matt also suggested Singapore.

Johan
Johan
20 days ago
Reply to  Jack

Every RAF base that operates a Typhoon. its on the RAFs wish list, but falls down as its a joint service aircraft.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
20 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

What about Australia

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
20 days ago

Even Spain..

eclipse
eclipse
21 days ago

I’m aware that the probabilities of some of the below are very low, but there are the ones I think possible:
UK variant A
UK variant C
Japan variant B
Poland variant A
Singapore variant A
UAE variant A
South Korea variant B
Finland variant A
An entirely new country desiring F-35s

Feel free to eliminate further and try to narrow down.

td_07
td_07
21 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

Singapore is planning to get the B variant, not the A

James Fennell
James Fennell
21 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity, so in my view definately a F-35B variant.

Could be 1.) weapons integration (in which case UK Meteor / Spear 3), 2.) other local systems or software in which case Japan or South Korea (maybe Singpore) most likely. Spain distant possibility.

https://www.defense.gov/News/Contracts/Contract/Article/2884211/

Last edited 21 days ago by James Fennell
Jon
Jon
19 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Navair seems to be involved in F-35 far more deeply than just the B and C variants. For example it controls the Joint Simulation Environment. They also announced a contract upgrade for Block 4 expansion earlier this year. I don’t think its involvment necessarily implies a naval variant. Consider this old report of Australia’s purchase of F-35A “Officials of the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md. — the organization handling F-35 aviation technology procurement for all military forces — are asking the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics segment in Fort Worth, Texas to build 15 F-35As… Read more »

Last edited 19 days ago by Jon
James Fennell
James Fennell
19 days ago
Reply to  Jon

OK – thanks for the info!

Callum
Callum
21 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

A UK C-variant isn’t going to happen, the B variant has been chosen and that’s that. Similarly, a UK A-variant won’t happen simply because there’s no need; the jet is already compatible with our requirements.

I’d add a stripped-back variant for Turkey as a possibility. Not especially likely, but far more likely than a UK version

eclipse
eclipse
21 days ago
Reply to  Callum

I made clear that I thought the U.K. variants weren’t happening, though I would contest the U.K.‘s requirement for more jets; a small number of F-35 As would certainly help bridge the gap until tempest comes to fruition. I doubt Turkey, it’s too much trouble. Living in the US, the democrats are already struggling to pass anything through Congress, they don’t have time to challenge the republicans on something so small as well.

Callum
Callum
21 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

Buying the A variant as a stop-gap until Tempest would be a fairly poor use of funds, but there’s been plenty of debate on that subject elsewhere.

As I said, Turkey seems unlikely but its one of the few options where it makes sense that a unique variant would be developed.

Clueless Observer
Clueless Observer
21 days ago
Reply to  Callum

We would be better off with a further purchase of Typhoons to replace the Tranche 1’s, keep the line running until Tempest comes on line then keep Typhoon in service long term for non-peer threats. It would help to build up capacity within the Air force too.

Deep32
Deep32
21 days ago

The likelihood of Tempest being late or cancelled must rate fairly highly on the MODS ‘Risk’ register! There is a train of thought that should the above occur, then we might need something to fill a capability gap if we start losing Typhoons due to age before we get Tempest. If so, then we probably have 3 choices to maintain capabilities. 1) Upgrade current Typhoon flt to stretch their flt hours, if possible. 2) Buy some Typhoons as you say, which will effectively give us a 3 aircraft flt when Tempest comes along. 3) Buy some more F35s be it… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
20 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

Tempest being late or cancelled “

You know HMG mate. Cuts happen at once. The Carrot is cut later on, with no comeback and the forces short changed yet again.
I have no faith in ANY political party to have the balls to see this through.

Deep32
Deep32
20 days ago

Hello mate, assuming it’s a ‘glass half empty’ sort of day for you! 🤣
Tempest production is a long way off I know, agree lots of things could go wrong, so I aim to keep my fingers crossed, or it will be a collosal waste of money-which admittedly we are pretty good at!!!
Have a good NY mate.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
20 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

Sorry D. You’re right. I’m on nights, I can be a bit GHE sometimes when jaded !

Johan
Johan
19 days ago

Unless all the current Future Fighter Programs come together under one project. i see no future in any of the current airframes.

John Clark
John Clark
21 days ago

I would love to see a UK order for 24 Tranche 4 Typhoons to replace the retiring examples and a retrospective upgrade to bring all Tranche 2 and 3 to the same standard. Re a new potential customer, I’ll venture a small number for Spain… The UK has its fall back position for Tempest cancellation, it will be an advanced F35 variant with a higher UK content…. You can guarantee LM and the US government have already been lobbying (or will shortly start) the UK government, in an effort to get rid of Tempest, as it’s rapidly turning into a… Read more »

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
20 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

I seriously hope the UK stands up to any (un) likely “US” pressures to do away with Tempest. Time for some backbone. Why does the US have to want to be tops in everything? Maybe a technology share and or a strategic partnership with a US manufacturer and lots of caution could be a goer.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
20 days ago

We are upgrading Typhoon, and buying more F35B’s. We don’t have the money to fund Typhoon upgrades, buy more F35B’s, start funding Tempest, and buy additional Typhoons or F35A’s. It’s not going to happen.

Johan
Johan
20 days ago
Reply to  Callum

UAE or another Sandy Country, BUT UAE buys from China as well, and the Link 16 system, is what the USA doesn’t want anywhere near a sniffer system.

Nicholas Perrett
Nicholas Perrett
21 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

My money is on Taiwan or Ukraine.

Julian
Julian
20 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

Running with the Navy references hinting at it possibly being a variant of the B I do note that there were rumours in the past that Israel was also looking to purchase some Bs for operations from austere airfields so maybe add an Israeli variant B (an F-35BI?) to that list?

Sean
Sean
20 days ago
Reply to  Julian

Best hypothesis I’ve seen here.

Matt C
Matt C
21 days ago

Most likely Singapore. The timing and unusual secrecy surrounding the announcement fits well. Just an opinion.

eclipse
eclipse
21 days ago
Reply to  Matt C

That’s in my list above, and it fits with James’ idea that it is most likely an F-35B. However, I think the timing is also good for Japan, which is recreating it’s heli destroyers into carriers, and potentially for SK, though their carrier is around a decade away.

Matt C
Matt C
21 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

The reason why I don’t think this particular contract relates to Japan is that Japan has already publicly announced purchases of 42 F-35Bs and is already test-flying their Bs, and is slated to begin operations in 2023. 2026 seems a little late to be doing modification works. Though not totally unlikely of course, such as perhaps to implement urgent lessons learned. Singapore stated that it would receive its 4 initial aircraft in 2026, somewhat matching the date of the contract. The much smaller buy also seems appropriate to the much smaller contract size. Purely speculatively, the “variant” could be radios… Read more »

eclipse
eclipse
21 days ago
Reply to  Matt C

Agreed, the fact that’s it’s about a third of the cost of an F-35B means it’s not a very big change. Considering the 50 million cost and Singapore’s order of 16 fighters, and assuming that it is simply attaching a specific bit of technology instead of the standard as opposed to modifying the design of the aircraft, 3 million per airframe sounds about right for switching out comms equipment and the like.

Expat
Expat
21 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

50m seems to be a down payment the article mentions 5 years. 50m over 5 years is peanuts. Sounds more like preliminary design and feasibility work to me.

James Fennell
James Fennell
21 days ago
Reply to  Expat

Not a down payment – full text is below 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. 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… Read more »

John
John
21 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Most of the money is going to Fort Worth . What happens there WRT F-35 ?

Expat
Expat
21 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

related activities in support of the design and development of a Joint Strike Fighter aircraft variant.

OK perhaps down payment is the wrong term. But the above is only the design and development work. There will be a following contract for the aircraft and delivery of these mods. This new variant will likely cost x more than the F35 its baselined from. So this is the first investment. Once the design is signed off it will move to the next phase.

James Fennell
James Fennell
21 days ago
Reply to  Expat

Yeah but unlikely to be much more than a switchout of minor equipment, as any major changes would need a prototype and test programme, and that alone is many hundreds of millions. It’s either a derated variant for FMS, or a mechanism to include some element of local equipment to meet a buyers needs.

Expat
Expat
20 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Any changes will need to be done to a test airframe. The Typhoon program has instrument test aircraft where mods are assessed and tested. 4 years to add some minor kit seems excessive. That’s the same time as the UK Typhoon Radar 2 and our loyal wing man Mosquito will fly in 2023 with the contract awarded this year. Perhaps the customers not in a rush or LM are to busy but stringing out a minor upgrade seems odd. Lastly I don’t think it’s a derated version. Maryland is getting just 1% of the work. Safeguarding the radar/sensors would be… Read more »

James Fennell
James Fennell
20 days ago
Reply to  Expat

Yes agreed. Very small money over 4 years. Maybe someone like SK – their carrier is a long way off?

Expat
Expat
20 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Another poster suggested Finland which makes sense as there first delivery is 2026. And they had some bespoke requirements for sovereign sustainability.

James Fennell
James Fennell
21 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

Yes eclipse, my money is on F-35B for Japan or South Korea.

Last edited 21 days ago by James Fennell
Watcherzero
Watcherzero
21 days ago

F-35i has already had substantial deliveries.
(it replaces the built in electronic warfare software and equipment with a modular system allowing the Israelis to plug and play their own warfare pods).

The Israelis do still want a two man version though so this could be for that, could also be a downrated UAE or Saudi variant.

Last edited 21 days ago by Watcherzero
eclipse
eclipse
21 days ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

50 million is nowhere near enough to modify an F-35 to a two seater variant. These are most likely simple modifications, from James and I’s perspective probably SK or Japanese F-35B modifications.

Meirion x
Meirion x
21 days ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

A two seater F-35 would cost a lot more than $49m to develop, over a $billion more like it!

Last edited 21 days ago by Meirion x
Watcherzero
Watcherzero
20 days ago
Reply to  Meirion x

Your confusing the cost of a paper study from that of development work. Remuneration for physical development work would be within the purchase contract.
Some concept work was done on it over a decade ago that identified it was feasible for the A and C variants but would be extremely costly for the B variant, and the performance hit from elongating the cockpit would be a reduction in range of 75 miles.

Last edited 20 days ago by Watcherzero
Jayanth
Jayanth
21 days ago

Could this be for India’s New Aircraft carrier ?

Geoff Bowler ex RAF
Geoff Bowler ex RAF
21 days ago

\\a varient that no one has mentioned is a long range artic patrol version for Canadas future fighter jet and the f35 and Gripen are still in the run off

LongTime
LongTime
21 days ago

Yeah plausible that the contract value is that low that it could be initial development of a F35A-LR. Not sure where the fuel would go? not like you can stick some conformal tanks on without effecting the RCA

Jon
Jon
21 days ago
Reply to  LongTime

The Israelis were working on conformal tanking at one point. I think that like beast mode, it’s not supposed to be for initial stealth operations.

The issue for me is, why would that be a foreign sale special development? It’s not like the UK wouldn’t like some drop tanks too. Why would other customers be excluded?

Expat
Expat
20 days ago
Reply to  LongTime

A F35 B-LR. The lift fan makes space for more fuel . And you save weight by removing other STOVL components. Fair bit of work to do on keeping the airframe CG though.but your RCA is intact..

Another option would be an F35 A or C reconnaissance version with fuel in the payload bay. So no weapons. But drones are better at this so why bother.

Monty
Monty
20 days ago

That is a possibility. The RCAF had Airbus CASA make modifications to thier C-295s to squeeze more performance out of it. Some examples are the gear is fully enclosed and vortex generators have replaced the strakes behind the cargo door.

Jon
Jon
21 days ago

The first Finnish F-35 is expected in 2026. Any small modifications that came as part of the agreement earlier this month could well be triggered now. Part of Finland’s requirement included sovereign supply sustainment in time of war. Might this be something ALIS/ODIN related?

Expat
Expat
20 days ago
Reply to  Jon

One of the most logical posts on here. The 50m and 4 year timeline makes no sense unless it’s part of a bigger buy.

Der Alte
Der Alte
20 days ago
Reply to  Expat

Finnish Air Force has a number of JASSM:s integrated to the Legacy Hornets just a few years ago, and if the stock has shell life available, it would make sense to integrate the legacy JASSM to the F-35 instead of purchasing JASMM-ER:s right away.

Jonathan
Jonathan
21 days ago

It’s unlikely I know as this capability will prolly come from drones, but could it be a buddy air refuelling system ? as any of the F35B operators could be asking for this.

my immediate thought was the Israel requirement for a 2 seater version but as People have pointed out, 50 million is not gong to do that work.

Johan
Johan
19 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

The Buddy Tanker was thrown around by QinetiQ, and the removal of on-board systems, to allow more internal fuel, in the weapons bay. a pure Tanker as it solves a short-term problem until the Drone Tankers come online.

JohninMK
JohninMK
21 days ago

The $50m is hardly more than a Korean/Japanese language version of the documentation and manuals would cost at the kinds of rates these guys charge out at.

FOSTERSMAN
FOSTERSMAN
21 days ago

F35b with landing gear and folding wings

John Hartley
John Hartley
21 days ago

I’m still hoping the long range strike F-35E becomes a real aircraft.

David Howard
David Howard
20 days ago

I am going to go out on a limb and say it is a detuned in some way B variant for those far east navies that are getting light carriers. They need the F35 as it is the only option to fly from those carriers but just can’t afford all the bells and whistles of the full fat F35B.

Johan
Johan
20 days ago

We Know that Qatar wanted a F35 Program but it upsets the ties with Saudi Arabia and Israel, also the pure fact the US wont share its Tech outside its partners, main reason all its AWACS platforms are not sold outside a trusted group. because the data transfer. so maybe a dumb version of the F35, that doesn’t talk back to the command HqS

Johan
Johan
20 days ago

Also we know the Royal Saudi Air Force wants the F35s but the US won’t approve any sales due to the closed network, and much like Turkeys removal due to the backdate from the 35s, US won’t sell its AWACS systems to Saudi for the same reason,
Saudi trying to force the issue, with huff n puff tactics but you dont give away your Sneek Fleet secrets to an un-trusted partner.

Paul T
Paul T
20 days ago
Reply to  Johan

If the US won’t sell their AWACS Tech to Saudi Arabia how did they end up with the E3 ?.

Johan
Johan
19 days ago
Reply to  Paul T

Purchased in 1983 and not upgraded by Boeing since, US wont sell what it classes as Smart weapons to SA due to their China Links. US Will not allow access to the Link 16 Frame work, which forces airforces via the Globaleye SAAB route.
its why TURKEY was removed from the F35 Program as Sniffer systems could exploit weakness in the systems.

Expat
Expat
20 days ago
Reply to  Johan

This was my thoughts originally or another middle east county. But Maryland is getting just 1% of the contract and any derated F35 would need to protect the radar and sensors and that’s Northrup in Maryland.

I’d go with Jon’s post, this is part of the Finland buy.

Derrick
Derrick
20 days ago

I’m guessing the use of conformed fuel tanks, Israel has stated it was looking at options, given they did develop the tanks for both the F-15 and F-16

Paul T
Paul T
20 days ago
Reply to  Derrick

The CFT’s for the F15 and F16 were sold to Israel by the US,they were not specifically developed by them.

Johan
Johan
19 days ago
Reply to  Derrick

Conformal Tanks, don’t appear to like being shot of carriers, is a main issue with the Hornets and the Ford Class, the seem to leak and dont flex,

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
20 days ago

Yanks are suggesting the three most likely contenders are a Singapore order that uses the F35-I as a base, a downgraded middle east export variant, or swapping the receptacle and probe of the A and B variants respectively to support a particular customers refueling needs.

Jay
Jay
20 days ago

RAF F35 with drogue/hose in flight refuelling probe?

Ah Lian
Ah Lian
20 days ago

I am sure this F-35 deal is Singapore.

Anyone already operating will be paying more to refit existing planes. Very standard MO for S’pore. Not mentioned by name, and never happy with the standard model. Timing is exactly right for them, and they have the money.

There’s an outside chance it’s Japan, and they’re doing the engineering themselves on their existing fleet.

Phil
Phil
20 days ago

It’s not the UK, we’re getting F35-B and that’s it. Not F35-A and not F35-C. MoD doesn’t have the money to splurge on two competing air frames, half of which wouldn’t be carrier capable. We’ll probably end up with between 60-80 F35-B, and “new” money will be going into Tempest. Which is at it should be.

Ian watson
Ian watson
20 days ago

It might be to produce an F-35A for the UK, with a refueling probe which is compatible with the A330 Voyager?

adam
adam
20 days ago

An arrestor hook for the Finnish F-35A for road base use?

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
20 days ago

My 2 cents worth. It could be for a recent order, eg Switzerland; Finland etc.

Rob N
Rob N
20 days ago

Is this anything to do with Finland’s 64 F-35A order. Perhaps they need something integrated?

Sean
Sean
20 days ago

Probably not this, but how long before they develop a fully self-flying F35 with no pilot required. Given the sensor fit and the amount of existing software automation onboard it would probably just require a software upgrade.

Rob N
Rob N
20 days ago
Reply to  Sean

It would be an expensive way to make a drone…

Sean
Sean
20 days ago
Reply to  Rob N

It’s would be an extremely well-armed and capable drone though, an excellent loyal wingman to a manned F35.

Matt i.t.A.
Matt i.t.A.
20 days ago

Switzerland?

Johan
Johan
20 days ago

This was chucked around today @ QinetiQ, with the recent UK task Group deployment one of the main areas of concern was Refueling, and maybe if you de-tooth an F35B and convert to a Buddy re-fueler you solve a problem Short Term. and a $50m investment you solve a current problem. until a Drone Option comes on stream, any changes could be to Avionics suites and weapons systems. installing additional fuel tanks in the weapons bay.

Jonathan
Jonathan
19 days ago
Reply to  Johan

Not sure if the orange wired airframes have many flight hours left, but instead of messing with a front line aircraft could the Orange wired aircraft be put to this use if they are not needed any more .

Last edited 19 days ago by Jonathan
Tams
Tams
19 days ago

I can’t be with one of the main players, and the UAE and especially Turkey are surely out? Nowhere near trustworthy enough.

So that leaves some of the junior partners. I don’t think Israel need a new variant. Japan will be looking at the Bs, as will South Korea; not that they have much choice. But wouldn’t they just get normal Bs?

So Singapore as others have suggested?

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
19 days ago

Possibly France?

“The US government has approved the Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of aircraft launch and recovery systems intended to equip France’s next-generation aircraft carrier.”

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/us-approves-emals-aag-sale-to-france

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
19 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

And more news on the F-35.

“The fiscal year (FY) 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requires the Pentagon to move all functions relating to the management, planning, and execution of F-35B- and C-model sustainment activities to the USN no later than 1 October 2027.”

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/terror-insurgent-group/latest/us-legislation-moves-f-35-sustainment-acquisition-away-from-the-joint-program-office

“The FY22 National Defense Authorization Act issues a challenge to the Pentagon: Lower F-35 sustainment costs or the services won’t be able to buy or fly as many as they want.”

https://breakingdefense.com/2021/12/fy22-defense-bill-puts-a-target-on-f-35-cost-with-procurement-hanging-in-the-balance/

Last edited 19 days ago by Nigel Collins