ORLANDO, Fla. — Lockheed Martin has been awarded a contract to modernize the U.S. Air Force fleet of F-22s — a contract that could be worth almost $7 billion for the company.
The Air Force announced the indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract Wednesday. Because of the nature of the contract, it is unclear how much the company will actually make for its work, but the contract caps out at $6.9 billion, a significant dollar amount at a time when defense contractors are feeling the pinch of reduced Defense Department spending.
The work is due to be completed by Feb. 20, 2023. Work will take place in El Segundo and San Diego, Calif.; Scottsdale, Ariz.; Nashua, N.H.; and Wayne, N.J. The contracting office is located at Wright-Patterson Air Force base in Ohio.
“Lockheed Martin looks forward to working with the Air Force to ensure the F-22 maintains air dominance for decades to come with capability upgrades like advanced weapons, multi-spectral sensors, advanced networking technology and advanced anti-jamming,” B.J. Boling, a Lockheed spokesman, wrote in an email.
An Air Force spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.
The Air Force originally planned to purchase almost 400 F-22s, but delays and budget overruns saw the buy reduced to 187. The final model rolled off the production line in December 2011.
The program has struggled with an ongoing issue in the air supply system, which has been blamed for a series of incidents in which pilots have reported dizziness and blackouts. Those problems led to a May 2012 decision to stop flying the jet in areas that pilots could find difficult to land in should they become lightheaded. Most restrictions have since been lifted as the Air Force installs replacement valves on the pilots’ life-support systems.
The oxygen issue is believed to have played a part in a fatal 2010 crash of the jet during a training mission in Alaska. On Feb 11, a DoD inspector general report found that the Air Force did not have significant evidence to blame the crash on the pilot.