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Lockheed Martin receives contract for F-35 Block 3F upgrade

Lockheed Martin Corp has received a $109 million contract to deliver modification kits for a Block 3F software upgrade for the F-35 Lightning II.

By Stephen Carlson
The new contract with Lockheed Martin for upgrades comes as the F-35 was deployed by the United States for the first time as two of the multi-role fighters sent to Estonia for military exercises, in addition to the next three of a planned order of 33 delivered to Israel last weekend. Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin
The new contract with Lockheed Martin for upgrades comes as the F-35 was deployed by the United States for the first time as two of the multi-role fighters sent to Estonia for military exercises, in addition to the next three of a planned order of 33 delivered to Israel last weekend. Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin

April 26 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin has received a $109 million contract to deliver modification kits for a Block 3F software upgrade to F-35 Lightning II

The upgrade includes aircraft under the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and international partners. It includes 567 modification kits as well as labor costs for contractors performing the installation and maintenance.

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The Block 3F software was recently tested in the dropping of a GBU-12 Paveway II precision guided bomb on April 22nd. The targeting system that is part of the upgrade is designed to be more autonomous and help reduce the pilot's workload.

Two F-35A Lightning II fighter planes have been deployed to Estonia in the last week, with a support crew of 20 airmen. The planes will be based out of Amari airbase.

The operation is a long-planned training mission, according to the Pentagon. The F-35s and supporting personnel are from the 34th and 466th Fighter Squadrons. It represents the first operational deployment of the F-35 to the European theatre. Bases in Europe are expected to house the plane on a permanent basis by the early 2020's.

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Israel, the first foreign nation to sign a contract for purchase of the aircraft, has received a total of five F-35's, the first two delivered in December 2016 and three more delivered in the last week. Israel was the first allied country to sign onto the program.

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