The Pentagon on Monday awarded Lockheed Martin a $49.05 million contract that provides engineering and other related activities in support of the design and development of a Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft variant tailored for an unspecified Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customer.
The identity of this FMS customer buying this ‘tailored JSF variant,’ could be the matter of much speculation. Currently, barring Israel, all other JSF customers receive the standard variants. Only Israel has been allowed to have its own variant called F-35I ADIR AS-1.
Work on the new JSF variant is expected to be completed in December 2026 and 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%), a Pentagon contracts announcement said.
The Pentagon contract in favor of the unspecified FMS customers comes just a couple of weeks after the U.S. indicated that it is keen to move forward with the sale of F-35 fighter jets to the U.A.E. after the latter called off procurement talks citing stiff end-user conditions.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington had to conduct some “reviews” but was prepared to move forward with the sale.
“We’ve wanted to make sure, for example, that our commitment to Israel’s qualitative military edge is assured, so we wanted to make sure that we could do a thorough review of any technologies that are sold or transferred to other partners in the region, including the UAE,” Blinken said.