Australian F-35A fleet unscathed by the TR-3 issues – the Gov

The Royal Australian Air Force [RAAF] remains unaffected by the F-35 upgrade TR-3 issues, according to a spokesperson from the Australian Department of Defense, as mentioned in Defense News. However, other F-35 operators in Asia, such as South Korea and Japan, have not provided any response to inquiries from US media. 

Asia-Pacific defense axis and US agree to joint F-35 exercises
Photo credit: RAAF

Australia is still waiting to receive the final nine F-35A fighters out of their total order of 72 units. This delay, caused by the TR-3 upgrade, has stirred concerns both in Washington and globally. For Australia to achieve full operational capability, all ordered fighter jets are needed. 

Canberra anticipates that deliveries will be completed this year or next. Nevertheless, these are just expectations; the arrival of Australia’s remaining nine F-35s could be on schedule or face further delays. Only time will tell. Lockheed Martin previously proposed a solution, suggesting the integration of a shortened version of the TR-3 to expedite the process for the already delayed F-35s. Currently, there is no indication that Australia will receive its nine fighters with this modified upgrade.

Six Australian F-35s fly over Nevada in 'world's toughest dogfight'
Photo credit: RAAF / X

Australian F-35A Block 3

According to BulgarianMilitary.com, a significant portion of the Australian F-35s are Block 3 and TR-2 models. This implies that in the coming years, these aircraft will require upgrades to the TR-3 version. However, the timeline and method for this upgrade remain uncertain. The Australian Department of Defense has confirmed to Defense News that the upgrade is part of an ongoing follow-on upgrade program and will be carried out. 

Lockheed Martin expects to deliver the first TR-3 aircraft ready for combat training in the third quarter. It remains to be seen if they can meet this timeline. A company spokesperson emphasized that the TR-3 upgrade is a “top priority,” noting that most of the new features included in the package are currently undergoing flight testing.

Alarming news for F-35 users: unforeseen one-year delay looms ahead
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

GAO report

According to a recent Government Accountability Office [GAO] report, the delivery of F-35 fighter jets is currently on hold and could take up to a year to resume. Lockheed Martin has had around 80 F-35 jets ready for delivery since last fall, all equipped with the new Tech Refresh 3 [TR-3] computer upgrade, which is still undergoing testing. As a result, the government hasn’t accepted any jets yet, leaving them parked. For security reasons, specific details regarding the number and location of these jets are not disclosed. 

The GAO report highlights that once deliveries commence, Lockheed Martin aims to deliver 20 F-35s each month, equating to approximately one jet per business day. However, to date, the highest delivery rate has been 13 jets per month, as noted in the GAO’s May 16 report. 

Six Australian F-35s fly over Nevada in 'world's toughest dogfight'
Photo credit: RAAF / X

The report concludes, “Even at this faster rate, delivering all the parked jets will still take about a year after the TR-3 software is completed and certified.”

“Shortened” version of the TR-3

If they can manage to roll out 20 fighters per month, clearing the backlog would take about four months. However, keep in mind that production continues, and each new fighter needs the “DD250” certification—this ensures they meet all requirements before delivery. As a result, the backlog will likely keep growing. 

Six Australian F-35s fly over Nevada in 'world's toughest dogfight'
Photo credit: RAAF / X

Don’t expect supplies to start right away. The F-35 Steering Group made up of U.S. military services, foreign partners, and other international users, has agreed to accept a shortened version of the TR-3 software. This temporary solution will let deliveries resume, but further updates to both hardware and software will be necessary once the complete TR-3 package is fully tested and certified. 

A spokesperson from the F-35 Joint Program Office mentioned that the streamlined software will only be released when it’s stable—meaning it won’t crash or need frequent reboots during missions. As of now, the JPO has not provided a timeline for when this stability is expected.

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