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SOURCE: Defense News

The Air Force on Friday awarded Lockheed Martin a $10.9 billion contract to modernize its F-22 Raptor fighter jet. The massive indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity deal for the F-22 Program Office’s Advanced Raptor Enhancement and Sustainment, or ARES, program will cover up to a decade’s worth of sustainment and modernization of the fifth-generation fighter.

According to a Defense Department announcement, the contract will cover services including upgrades, enhancements and fixes to the Raptor. Lockheed will also provide logistics services and modernization hardware kit procurement. If all contract options are exercised, the Pentagon expects the work to be finished by Oct. 31, 2031. Work on the contract will be carried out in Fort Worth, Texas.

The contract was a sole-source award to Lockheed Martin, which built the F-22.

However, by the time the F-22?s modernization under ARES is finished, the aircraft could be nearing the end of its life span.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown said in May the Air Force plans to eventually retire the F-22 as part of an effort to trim its fighter inventory.

Lt. Gen. Clinton Hinote, Air Force deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration and requirements, said in a May interview with Defense News the service is planning to use the Raptor as a “bridge” until the Next Generation Air Dominance program is up and running.

Hinote noted that by the 2030s, the Raptor would be four decades old, having first gone into development in 1991.

“It’s just not going to be the right tool for the job, especially when we’re talking about defending our friends like Taiwan and Japan and the Philippines against a Chinese threat that grows and grows,” Hinote said in May.