Lockheed Martin and the F-35 Joint Program Office have delivered the 500th F-35 LIGHTNING II, the company announced on 3 March, confirming at the same time that the F-35 enterprise passed the 250,000 flight-hour milestone in February.
The 500th production aircraft is a USAF F-35A, destined for the Burlington Air National Guard Base in Vermont. The 500 F-35sd delivered to date include 354 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variants, 108 F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variants and 38 F-35C carrier (CV) variants for US and international customers. The 250,000 flight hours include all F-35s in the fleet – developmental test jets, training, operational, American and international aircraft.
"The F-35 is delivering […] fifth-generation combat capability to the warfighter at the cost of a fourth-generation legacy aircraft,” commented Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin Vice President and General Manager of the F-35 programme.
The F-35 operates from 23 bases worldwide. More than 985 pilots and over 8,890 maintainers are trained. Nine nations use the F-35 from their home soil, eight services have declared Initial Operating Capability and four services have employed F-35s in combat operations. The F-35 enterprise is now ramping towards full-scale production and a focus on sustaining the global fleet.