Lockheed Martin has secured an $869.9 million contract to modify its F-35 fighter jet in anticipation of it completing final tests.  

The modifications will include improvements to mission and weapons systems, as well as new flight testing hardware.  

The contract will be completed by 2026 and involves the modification of all three major variants of the jet, the F-35A, F-35B and F-35C. 

According to Nasdaq, who first reported the contract, the modifications are expected to lead to the eventual completion of the F-35’s operational tests. 

Even though more than 750 F-35s have been delivered and are currently operated by 10 countries worldwide, the aircraft is officially still in the operational testing phase, a hurdle which prevents Lockheed Martin from achieving full-rate mass production. 

The testing phase was expected to end in 2020, however, the COVID-19 pandemic and other obstacles prevented its conclusion. 

Multiple shortcomings were revealed as the jet became operational, some of which may have led to two crashes in November 2021 and January 2022.