The US Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with a ceiling of $6.9 billion to upgrade the service's fleet of F-22 Raptor air superiority fighters.
According to Lockheed, the arrangement is a corollary to a previous Raptor modernization contract that was issued in 2003. "The Air Force uses this to authorize the Incremental Modernization capability efforts such as Increment 3.1, Increment 3.2A and Increment 3.2B," the company says. "F-22 modernization provides upgrades that ensures the Raptor maintains air dominance against an ever advancing threat - with capabilities such as advanced weapons, multi-spectral sensors, advanced networking technology and advanced anti-jamming technology."
The contract award comes just days before a 1 March deadline for when automatic defence budget cuts kick in. The USAF expects that the work will be completed by 20 February 2023.
The Increment 3.1 upgrade, which is already being fielded, adds synthetic aperture radar (SAR) ground mapping capability to the F-22. It also adds the ability to carry eight 113kg (250lb) Small Diameter Bombs (SDB) to the jet.
In 2014, the USAF hopes to field Increment 3.2A, which will add new electronic protection measures and new combat identification capabilities to the Raptor. It will also correlate data from the jet's receive-only Link 16 data-link and fuse it with the F-22's integrated sensors.
Later, in 2017 the USAF hopes to start installing Increment 3.2B modifications onto its Raptor fleet. Increment 3.2B is a hardware and software upgrade that will fully incorporate the Raytheon AIM-120D and AIM-9X air-to-air missiles onto the F-22. It will also further upgrade the aircraft's geo-location and electronic protection capabilities. However, the USAF expects to incorporate rudimentary AIM-9X and AIM-120D capability onto the Raptor before 2017.
The USAF is funding a subsequent Increment 3.3 upgrade as a separate procurement programme.