I suspect it is the black world of ‘new developments’ that might pose a threat to long term F-35 procurements post, oh, around 2035 (for the USAF). We’ve known for a while there is some sort of fleet of something (a la F-117) out in the desert based on the images of the rebuilt/expanded hangars for some time now.
We just don’t know what or how many they are, which would be useful info...https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/3 ... ge-airport
I expect those are loyal wingmen being tested even with the recent award to Boeing, Kratos and someone else. The USAF has a plan for between 48 to 60 F-35s a year until at least the mid 2030s (the last SAR had production until 2043 but obviously doesn't factor in this potential reduction). Between today and then that is approx. 750 to 900 aircraft. If the USAF looks at a replacement in 2035 that still puts upwards of 1300 F-35s in USAF service, as well as 350 F-35B and another 350 F-35C.
The other thing motoring along is the Digital Century Series but I expect those won’t replace core F-35 orders but sit across the top. The F-35 is an excellent base aircraft for the fleet, same as the F-16, and the USAF can then add boutique high end capability via DCS designs.
Did LM factor this into their pricing model? A 40% reduction in airframes (USAF) is a big hit.....
LM get a guaranteed profit on every F-35, something like 6%, which isn’t great from an Industry perspective, LM probably profit more from the dev programs and new block work. The long term revenue that comes from selling and then sustaining the fleet is what the market favours and why LM stock has done so well, it is essentially solid from a revenue perspective for a long time.
The F-35 production line is running at 150 a year now and higher than that from 2023 and likely to remain at that high level until at least 2030 and probably closer to 2033. 150 jets a year for 10 years is 1500 aircraft above the 600 or so they have already delivered. That is four times the Eurofighter orders, seven times Rafale orders and fourteen times Gripen orders before you factor in Blk 4/5/6 improvement work and an expected operational timeframe to the 2060s I don’t think they will be short on revenue. Then factor in that an evolved F-35 design with a new engine is certainly possible from 2028-30 which may capture export market share from FCAS and Tempest. Then factor in LM probably have a foothold in future DCS work or UCAV etc.
I don’t see LM having a funding or profitability issue but they are probably their own worst enemy, there are enough examples of Primes that fell on their swords because they over reached.