F-35 aircraft

Exelis has received two low-rate initial production (LRIP) contracts for the delivery of carriage and release systems for the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) aircraft.

Having a combined value of approximately $60m, the contracts cover the delivery of additional systems, including spare equipment for all three variants of the aircraft.

The equipment is scheduled to address all requirements of both the US and international partners.

Exelis electronic attack and release systems business defense systems director Pete Martin said the F-35 is expected to serve as the premier combat aircraft for the coming decades.

”Our carriage and release systems provide the aircraft with the high-performance capability it needs to carry its mission payload while maintaining its low-observable profile,” Martin said.

The company already supplies carriage and release systems for the aircraft.

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"The aircraft is scheduled to replace USAF’s A-10 and F-16, the navy’s F/A-18, USMC’s F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier."

Currently under development in three versions by prime contractor, Lockheed, the F-35 JSF is a fifth-generation multirole fighter aircraft designed to conduct an array of ground attack, reconnaissance and air defence missions with stealth capability.

The variants include a conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft for the US Air Force (USAF) and allied air forces, a short takeoff and landing (STOVL) fighter for the US Marine Corps (USMC) and the Royal Navy and a carrier version (CV) for the US Navy.

The aircraft is scheduled to replace USAF’s A-10 and F-16, the navy’s F/A-18, USMC’s F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier and fighter aircraft of at least ten international countries.

Principally financed by the US, the JSF programme also receives additional funding from the UK and seven international partners, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Norway and Turkey.

Deliveries of systems for 36 F-35 aircraft is scheduled to commence in January 2014, while that of second lot comprising units and additional spares for 37 F-35 will begin in March 2015.

Image: An F-35 aircraft taxis across the flight line at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, US. Photo: courtesy of USAF Tech. Sgt. Samuel King/Released.

Defence Technology