The latest Block 4 version of the F-35 Lightning II multirole fighters will receive the new AN/APG-85 radar instead of the current AN/APG-81. Polish, Belgian or Finnish F-35As will probably receive the new radar as well.
Sporadic information about the AN/APG-85 has surfaced several times over the past year. According to an April Defense News article, the US Air Force (USAF) has ordered production of “an additional seven Block 4 F-35A aircraft with the AN/APG-85 radar” in the current fiscal year (FY) 2023 (October 1, 2022 to September 30, 2023). from production batch 17 [Lot 17].”
In order not to get lost in “blocks” and “production batches”, let’s describe the current production and modernization plans of the F-35 Lightning II. Then we get to the radar itself:
A few days ago, the conclusion of an agreement between the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin for the production of 398 F-35s as part of production batches 15, 16 and 17 (Lot 15, 16 and 17) was announced. Production of Lot 15 will take place in the current fiscal year, Lot 17 in FY2025.
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The financial amount of the agreement reaches 30 billion dollars and also includes the first F-35 for Belgium, Finland and Poland. Poland will take delivery of the first F-35A in 2024 – four years after the order.
But until 2025, the first eight Polish F-35 Lightning II will remain in the United States for the training of Polish pilots and ground crew members.