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Tech Refresh 3 upgrades roll out for F-35s

Improvements are rolling out for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program as Lockheed Martin launches their Technology Refresh 3 upgrade.

Improvements are rolling out for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program as Lockheed Martin launches their Technology Refresh 3 upgrade.

The F-35 single-seat stealth combat aircraft has significant air superiority and strike mission capability as well as assets for electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

Lockheed Martin aeronautics executive vice-president Greg M Ulmer said the TR-3 upgrade will take the aircraft to a new level.


“In January, the first step for the continued modernisation of the F-35 took place with the first flight test of what we call ‘Tech Refresh 3’,” he said.

“Think of it as a new integrated core processor mission computer for the F-35. The aperture system for the F-35, a new panoramic cockpit display and a new aircraft memory unit for the airplane because just like the speed of technology and all things in the world today, we have to keep the F-35 updated.

“We have begun the flight test of that hardware system which we call Block Four capabilities on the F-35. This includes new sensor suite, more long-range precision weapons, improved electronic warfare, and a more powerful data fusion on the airplane.”

Lockheed Martin has also been awarded a $100 million contract modification to provide engineering, testing, maintenance, logistics, and material in support of Phase 2 upgrades of the Australia Canada United Kingdom Reprogramming Laboratory for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, to be completed in December 2029.

F-35 Joint Program Office program executive officer Lieutenant General Mike Schmidt said TR-3 is a significant achievement for the F-35 program.

“TR-3 is the F-35’s critical computer processing electronics upgrade that will continue to provide all our pilots with the capability they need to be successful against any adversary,” he said.

“There is still a lot of work to do, and I am confident that our industry partners and government team will get the job done.”

The TR-3 program is expected to deliver capability to the US and its allies starting this year.

Additionally, US optical systems company Kopin Corporation has reached production qualification of its organic light emitting diode (OLED) display for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS).

The company already supplies high-brightness AMLCDs for the F-35 HMDS under a multi-year procurement agreement and is engaged in a development program to production qualify the next generation OLED displays for the HMDS.

Kopin business development and strategy vice-president Bill Maffucci said the company has completed its full performance validation of the OLED display in preparation for customer qualification and flight testing.

“Performance validation for the new OLED display is an important milestone in the production qualification of our display and confirms the exceptional performance of our OLED technology,” he said.

“We believe our display is the only one that meets the higher performance requirements for this program because of it high dynamic range, and as a result, the Kopin OLED is the only version moving forward into final qualification and full rate production.

“We believe successful completion of customer testing will enable Kopin to continue as the sole provider of production displays for the F-35 HMDS through two generations of display technologies."

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