Over 2021, Switzerland and Finland selected Lockheed Martin’s F-35 for their new fighter jets while Denmark received the country’s first F-35 jet.
According to Lockheed Martin, 2021 proved to be a successful year for the F-35, with Switzerland and Finland both selecting the F-35 as the respective country’s fighter planes, Denmark receiving its first F-35 order and the Royal Netherlands Air Force confirming that their fleet of F-35s had met their Initial Operational Capability.
"The F-35 joint enterprise team continues to provide unmatched combat capability to the 21st century battlespace through the F-35," Bridget Lauderdale, vice-president and general manager of the F-35 program, said.
"Providing unparalleled support to the growing fleet, participating in numerous Joint-All Domain exercises and meeting our delivery target during a global pandemic is no small feat while the F-35 was also chosen by Switzerland and Finland as their next fighter."
Lockheed Martin explained that over 2021, the fighter plane took part in a number of military exercises such as Project Hydra, Northern Edge, Orange Flag, Talisman Sabre and Flight Test-6, as well as taking part in an estimated 60 deployments and detachments. While deployed on the HMS Queen Elizabeth as part of the Carrier Strike Group alone, the aircraft saw nearly 1,300 sorties and 44 combat missions.
The company also suggested that the F-35A had continued to prove reliable, showing 80 per cent mission capable rates along with 93 per cent of the US’ F-35 parts performing better than expected.
"Lockheed Martin is investing in digital technology that advances the F-35's 5th Gen capabilities long after delivery," Lauderdale continued.
"We're embracing digital transformation to enable faster development and continuous deployment of software, using digital models and supercomputers to augment physical test data with simulation-based verification, and automating data processes to save time and glean insights that improve sustainment."
There are currently 1,585 F-35 pilots supported by 11,545 F-35 maintainers across the globe.
The announcement comes as BAE Systems has received a US$493 million ($687 million) contract modification from Lockheed Martin to upgrade and modernise the electronic warfare (EW) system for the F-35 Lightning II in mid-December.
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Specifically, BAE Systems has been tasked with delivering enhanced core hardware for the F-35’s high-performance EW mission system – referred to as AN/ASQ-239 – while also providing engineering support services and test infrastructure.
The upgrades are expected to enable the fifth-generation fighter to rapidly detect and address evolving electromagnetic threats in contested battlespaces by leveraging new sensors and more powerful signal processing.
This is tipped to deliver superior situational awareness, electromagnetic attack and countermeasure capabilities.
“The capabilities we will deliver in this contract are foundational and will be leveraged to other platforms to ensure all warfighters have the most advanced EW capability at the ready,” Lisa Aucoin, vice-president of F-35 solutions at BAE Systems, said.
“The highly adaptable mission system will allow our warfighters to outpace evolving threats and defend democracy around the globe.”
[Related: BAE Systems secures $687m global F-35 deal]