On Friday, 15 December 2017, Lockheed Martin delivered the 66th F-35 aircraft for the year, meeting the joint government and industry delivery target for 2017.
To date, more than 265 F-35 aircraft have been delivered to US and international customers. More than 530 pilots and nearly 5,000 maintainers have been trained, and the F-35 fleet has surpassed more than 115,000 cumulative flight hours.
“Meeting our 2017 delivery commitment is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our joint government and industry team to deliver the transformational F-35 air system to the warfighter,” Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President and F-35 Program General Manager Jeff Babione, said. “The team continues to overcome program challenges and achieving this milestone gives our customers confidence that the F-35 enterprise can deliver on the increasing production quantities year-over-year.”
66 F-35 deliveries in 2017 represents more than a 40% increase from 2016, and the F-35 enterprise is prepared to increase production volume year-over-year to hit full rate of approximately 160 aircraft in 2023. As production ramps and additional improvements are implemented, Lockheed Martin’s goal is to reduce the cost of an F-35A to $80 million by 2020, with the incorporation of lessons learned, process efficiencies, production automation, facility and tooling upgrades, supply chain initiatives and more.
According to the company, the F-35 enterprise has already significantly reduced costs and improved efficiency, with the price of an F-35A having come down more than 60% from the first contract, touch labor reduced by about 75% over the last five years and production span time decreased by about 20% since 2015.
To prepare for an increase in production, Lockheed Martin has hired more than 1,300 employees at its Fort Worth, TX/USA facility since January 2017, and expects to hire a total of 1,800 as previously announced. The F-35 is built by thousands of men and women in America and around the world. The programme includes more than 100 international suppliers, creating or sustaining thousands of international jobs.
The supersonic, multi-role F-35 represents a transformational capability providing situational awareness, lethality and survivability. It combines next generation characteristics of radar evading stealth, supersonic speed and fighter agility with a powerful and comprehensive integrated sensor package.