November 22, 2011 / 12:26 PM / 8 years ago

Lockheed clarifies latest F-22 fighter upgrade deal

WASHINGTON, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp said it had received a boost to a 10-year upgrade contract for its premier F-22 fighter plane that raised the overall deal’s potential value to $7.4 billion, not a new contract of this value.

The contract in question, known as the Raptor Enhancement Development and Integration contract, was issued in 2002, with nine one-year options, Lockheed spokeswoman Stephanie Stinn said in an emailed reply to Reuters shortly before midnight on Monday.

“The announcement made by the Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force last week raises the financial ceiling of this ten-year contract to $7.4 billion,” she said. “This is not a new contract award funding.”

The previous ceiling was not immediately available, and the Air Force did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Tuesday.

The Defense Department had said in its contract digest on Friday that Lockheed Martin was being awarded a potential $7.4 “indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity” contract for F-22 system upgrades, added capabilities and enhanced performance.

The radar-evading F-22 “Raptor,” the costliest and most advanced U.S. fighter, has been beset with oxygen system problems and other malfunctions that have grounded the fleet or parts of it several times since the F-22 entered service in 2005.

Stinn said the latest contracting action cleared the way for funding of further upgrades in 2012, the deal’s final year.

The associated sums were requested in President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2012 budget request sent in February to the U.S. Congress, she said.

The final Raptor is due for delivery next month after former Defense Secretary Robert Gates persuaded Congress to cap the fleet at 187 aircraft. The F-22s have never been used in battle, but have rotated in and out of Kadena Air Base in Japan and Andersen Air Force Base in Guam

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