Lockheed Martin has been contracted to design and build a new variant of its F-35 for an unnamed ally, the Pentagon announced. File Photo by R. Nial Bradshaw/U.S. Air Force | License Photo
Dec. 28 (UPI) -- The Pentagon has awarded Lockheed Martin a $49 million contract to design and develop a new F-35 stealth jet variant for an unnamed ally.
"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 customer," the Department of Defense announced Monday.
The majority of work on the new F-35 variant for the unnamed ally will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, according to the announcement, with some work also performed in Redondo Beach, Calif., Orlando, Fla., Baltimore, Md., Owego, N.Y. and Samlesbury, Britain.
All of the work is expected to be completed by December 2026.
While the FMS customer has not been identified, currently all JSF customers receive the standard variants, except for Israel, which has is own variant called F-35I ADIR AS-1, Defenseworld.Net reported.
The United Arab Emirates announced earlier this month that it was suspending discussions on a multi-billion deal with the United States to buy U.S.-made F-35 fighter jets amid U.S. government pressure for the UAE not to do business with Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies.
The UAE has been skeptical of the potential security claims, and a UAE official cited "technical requirements, sovereign operational restrictions and cost/benefit analysis," as the basis of the decision to suspend procurement talks, according to CNN.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Washington was ready to move forward with the sale after conducting some "reviews," to ensure "Israel's qualitative military edge."
Finland announced this month that it has chosen the F-35A for its next fighter aircraft, with plans to buy 64 F-F35A after the F-35 JSF won Finland's HX fighter competition.
The Netherlands military declared on Monday, Initial Operational Capacity for their F-35A fleet, making it the eighth country and 12th military service to declare IOC for its F-35 fleet.