The original equipment manufacturer of the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jet, Lockheed Martin, has been awarded a $1.4bn contract to provide continued development of critical F-35 warfighting capabilities.

These include Electronic Warfare (EW) Band 2/5 Radar Warning Receiver, Modernised Countermeasure Controller, Multi-ship Infrared Search and Track Increment 2, and Beyond Line of Sight communications, as well as supports required training and combat data systems development for Lots 16 and 17 production aircraft.

This follows a contract to provide the US Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers, as well as non-Department of Defense (DoD) participants with 81 F-35A aircraft, 26 F-35B aircraft, and 19 F-35C aircraft, awarded 28 April.

Leading intelligence from GlobalData tells us that between 2022-32 global spending on platform-based EW is expected to register a compound annual growth rate of 4.5%. The US alone is believed to have spent $1.7bn in 2022, which is expected to grow to $2.8bn by 2032.

There will also be growth in the electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) systems market, as the global military EO/IR systems market, valued at $10.1bn in 2022, is projected to grow at a CAGR of 3.1% over the forecast period. It is expected to reach $13.6bn by 2032 and cumulatively value $124.1bn over the same period. 

The F-35 is a fifth-generation stealth fighter that combines advanced sensors and computer technology with a highly manoeuvrable airframe. It is designed to be a multi-role aircraft that can perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions and provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.

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As the standard Nato aircraft, the F-35 enhancements will provide Lot 17 – a contract for F-35s in US partner fleets – with an increased competitive edge.

Meanwhile, the Russian Air Force are seeking to adapt artificial intelligence in its aerial systems for its fifth-generation Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighter. However, Russia appears to have no way of sustaining such advanced equipment, let alone sourcing the critical components needed for this adaptation.