On Tuesday, Lockheed Martin CEO Jim Taiclet said that his company is waiting for the completion of the December 15 F-35 mishap before new fighters can be delivered.
Last month, the Pentagon grounded F-35 Joint Strike Fighters after a hovering fighter crashed on December 15th on a Texas runway. In this crash, the pilot was ejected from the fighter. The crash quickly went viral on social media.
#Breaking New much clearer video, courtesy Kitt Wilder, of STOL variant F35 B model landing JRB Fort Worth, and pilot ejects. Condition of pilot still unknown. @CBSDFW pic.twitter.com/BeERIeyhtO
— Doug Dunbar (@cbs11doug) December 15, 2022
The Pentagon’s Statement
Immediately following the F-15 crash, the Pentagon issued the following statement.
“The F-35 Joint Program Office has issued a Time Compliance Technical Directive (TCTD) to restrict some aircraft, which have been evaluated to be of higher risk, from flight operations while the investigation into the mishap on December 15 continues and until procedures can be developed for their return to flight,” the JPO said. “The affected aircraft have been identified, and the JPO will work with the [U.S. military] services and [international] partners to ensure compliance with the TCTD.”
Jim Taiclet did not provide a time frame for when he expects deliveries to resume. Taiclet said in Tuesday’s earnings call the company is waiting on the government and Pratt & Whitney to finish the mishap investigation, and that the company expects to be notified it can resume acceptance flights and deliveries once that is done.
Military Times reported that Jay Malave, Lockheed’s chief financial officer, said the company hopes to begin retrofitting the existing fleet of F-35s with the hardware and software upgrades known as Technology Refresh 3 sometime next year. This will be part of Lockheed Martin’s sustainment work on the F-35. The Air Force flew its first test F-35 with TR3 — which includes improved memory, processing power and displays, and will help get the fighter ready for Block 4 upgrades — earlier this month. Taiclet said Lockheed plans to roll out more software releases and added capabilities in the months to come.
“It’ll be able to handle more weapons, it’ll be able to upgrade electronic warfare capabilities, it’ll be able to accomplish more missions,” Taiclet said. “The basic functionality of the aircraft alone is going to be elevated significantly by the insertion of this technology.”
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