The F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) and Lockheed Martin have delivered the 300th F-35. The jet, AF-150 (15-5175), is a conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35A for the US Air Force and will serve at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The JPO and Lockheed announced the milestone on June 11.
“The F-35 weapons system is a key enabler of our National Defense Strategy and is providing our warfighters the combat proven, advanced capabilities they need to meet mission requirements,” said Vice Admiral Mat Winter, programme executive officer for the F-35 JPO. “The 300th production aircraft delivery is a significant milestone that highlights the effective F-35 enterprise collaboration across the JPO, US services, partners and industry. Moving forward, our F-35 team remains committed to driving costs down, quality up and faster delivery timelines across our development, production and sustainment lines of effort.”
Of the 300 F-35s completed to date, 197 are CTOL F-35A variants, 75 are F-35B short take-off/vertical landing (STOVL) variants and 28 are F-35C carrier variants (CV). As deliveries have ramped up, more than 620 pilots and 5,600 maintainers have been trained on the type, and the Lightning II fleet has flown more than 140,000 cumulative flight hours.
“This milestone is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our joint government and industry team as we collaborate to deliver transformational F-35 capabilities to the men and women in uniform,” said Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager of the F-35 programme. “We are focused on reducing costs, increasing efficiencies, and ensuring the highest level of quality as we ramp to full rate production and sustainment of the operational fleet.”
The F-35 JPO and Lockheed Martin recently reached an agreement allowing deliveries of the Lightning II to the US Department of Defense to resume. The Pentagon began accepting F-35s again on May 1, after deliveries were initially suspended on March 29 amid a dispute over who would cover the costs of fixing a production error.
The contract disagreement began after it emerged late last year that holes drilled for fasteners were not properly treated with anti-corrosion paint. The two parties agreed “to effectively and efficiently address the F-35 hole primer issue”, according to Lockheed Martin. The JPO did not report which party was covering the $119m cost of the repairs, which will take two years.
During the month-long pause, the DoD refused to accept five F-35s, including three for the USAF, and deliveries for Australia and Norway were also affected.
F-35 production continued during the suspension, and Lockheed said it is on track to meet its target of 91 aircraft for this year. Last year, the manufacturer delivered 66 aircraft and plans to increase production volume to approximately 160 aircraft in 2023.
As production volume increases and additional efficiencies are implemented, Lockheed Martin says it is on track to reduce the cost of an F-35A to $80m by 2020.