F-35 Joint Strike Fighters with Tech Refresh 3 (TR-3) hardware will not be accepted by the Pentagon starting next month.
TR-3 aims to enhance the fighter's displays, computer memory, and processing power. The delivery of TR-3 has experienced delays, and there is a risk of further slippage until the December 2023-April 2024 timeframe.
TR-3 is a prerequisite for the F-35's more comprehensive modernization known as Block 4, which will improve its capabilities in areas such as carrying long-range precision weapons and electronic warfare.
Newly built F-35s with TR-3 hardware will be sequestered until ongoing testing and validation of the relevant combat capability is completed. Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer, may need to store numerous upgraded F-35s at its main factory in Fort Worth, Texas, until the acceptance of TR-3 occurs, potentially extending into spring 2024.
The challenge lies in integrating the TR-3 software with the new hardware.
Lockheed Martin said in a statement that it remains committed to delivering the first TR-3-enabled fighter in 2023 and is actively working on software development with the Joint Program Office (JPO).
The exact number of affected fighters and the quantity of F-35s with TR-3 hardware expected to be built this year have not been specified by Lockheed Martin, which initially planned to deliver between 147 and 153 fighters in 2023.