Lockheed Martin's First F-35s for Poland Set to Roll Out

Lockheed Martin’s First F-35s for Poland Set to Roll Out

Lockheed Martin officials have confirmed that the first F-35 fighter jets for Poland are expected to roll out from the company’s production facility in Fort Worth, Texas this summer. This key milestone remains on schedule despite delays with the aircraft’s Technology Refresh 3 (TR-3) upgrade package.

“The first F-35 planes for Poland are expected to leave the factory this summer,” stated Gary North, Lockheed Martin’s Vice President for Customer Requirements. “Between late 2024 and 2026, these planes will be used at the Ebbing Air National Guard Base to begin training Polish pilots.”

Lockheed’s timeline aligns with Poland’s plans to commence F-35 pilot instruction in the United States later in 2023. This training pipelinewill facilitate the arrival of Poland’s F-35 fleet in 2026 per the acquisition contract.

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Poland’s F-35 Program Remains on Schedule

Last month, Polish Ministry of National Defence officials confirmed the $4.6 billion foreign military sale for 32 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variants is “proceeding in line with the schedule.”

When delivered, the 5th generation F-35s will replace Poland’s aging fleet of Soviet-era Sukhoi Su-22 and Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jets. The new fighters will complement Poland’s existing F-16 and FA-50 light attack aircraft inventories.

Poland is set to become the first operator of the F-35 in Central/Eastern Europe, with the Czech Republic and Romania positioned as future regional customers.

Lockheed Overcoming Delays with Critical Upgrade

While the initial F-35 deliveries to Poland remain on track, Lockheed has encountered challenges rolling out the comprehensive TR-3 hardware and software modernization across the global F-35 fleet.

The long-awaited Technology Refresh 3 is a critical systems upgrade designed to boost computing power and enhance the F-35’s capabilities. However, Lockheed CEO Jim Taiclet recently stated that F-35s with full TR-3 will not be combat-ready until 2025 due to delays exceeding a year.

Despite this setback for TR-3, the core F-35 production for international partners like Poland continues unimpeded. As one of Lockheed’s largest F-35 customers, Poland is a strategic priority for timely deliveries of the advanced stealth fighters.

The F-35’s entry into the Polish Air Force marks a significant milestone, ushering in a new era of air power for the nation and the broader region. Lockheed Martin remains committed to meeting Poland’s operational needs while working to implement the critical TR-3 across the global F-35 fleet as quickly as possible.

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