The US Department of Defense (DoD) could agree with Lockheed Martin’s F-35 sustainment plan if the company discloses critical technical data on the aircraft.

The data should make the sustainment of the aircraft possible without interference from the company, giving the Pentagon the ability to ditch Lockheed Martin if the performance of the jets is deemed unsatisfactory.

Only with such a caveat would the Pentagon agree to the company's offer to sign a performance-based logistics contract. 

DoD’s plan was discussed in a roundtable with reporters, as reported by DefenseNews.

The new contract has to be agreed upon by the time the current one – signed in mid-September, 2021, and worth $6.6 billion – expires. This contract focuses on the sustainment of the entire F-35 fleet in FY 2021-2023.

Read more: Pentagon signs F-35 sustainment contracts with Lockheed worth $6.6 billion

As it expires in 2023, a new contract has to be signed. In February 2021 Lockheed Martin hinted that it might be performance-based, tying the cost of sustainment to the performance of the aircraft. According to the company, it would incentivize work on the jet's mission-capable rate, which has not been optimal so far. It could also lower its cost per hour of operation.

According to the USAF Program Executive Officer for the F-35 Lightning II Eric Fick, quoted by DefenseNews, with F-35’s technical data disclosed, Pentagon would have a choice at the end of the upcoming sustainment contract: to choose Lockheed Martin or to go for another contractor that would satisfy the requirements better. 

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The F-35 stealth fighter jet became the most expensive weapon program in military history.