Pentagon’s No.1 weapons supplier Lockheed Martin Corp. has announced that last week delivered the 123rd F-35 stealth warplane of the year.
According to a press release issued Monday by Lockheed Martin, the 123rd aircraft is an F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, built at the Cameri, Italy, Final Assembly and Checkout (FACO) facility and delivered to the Italian Air Force. In 2020, 74 F-35s were delivered to the United States military, 31 to international partner nations and 18 to Foreign Military Sales customers.
In response to COVID-19 related supplier delays, in May the initial annual delivery goal was revised from 141 to 117-123 aircraft to strategically avoid surging, which would increase production-related costs and create future delays and disruption.
“The F-35 joint enterprise team rapidly responded to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic to continue to deliver the unmatched combat capability the F-35 brings to the Warfighter,” said Bill Brotherton, acting vice president and general manager of the F-35 program. “Achieving this milestone amid a global pandemic is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the team and their commitment to our customers’ missions.”
Lockheed Martin took proactive measures to mitigate COVID-19 supplier impacts and position the program for the fastest possible recovery by adjusting employee work schedules, maintaining specialized employee skillsets, and providing accelerated payments to small and vulnerable suppliers. Lockheed Martin provided accelerated payments to more than 400 F-35 suppliers in 45 states and Puerto Rico.
Though COVID-19 will have short-term impacts on production, the F-35 program continues to work diligently and is on track to meet the joint government and industry recovery commitments over the coming years.
Lockheed Marti says the F-35 is the world’s most advanced and sophisticated stealth fighter jet.
With more than 600 aircraft operating from 26 bases and ships around the globe, the F-35 plays a critical role in today’s global security environment. More than 1,200 pilots and 10,000 maintainers are trained, and the F-35 fleet has surpassed more than 350,000 cumulative flight hours. Nine nations have F-35s operating from a base on their home soil, nine services have declared Initial Operational Capability and six services have employed F-35s in combat operations. The United States Air Force deployed the F-35 for 18 consecutive months from April 2019 until October 2020 in the Central Command Area of Responsibility with hundreds of weapons employments in support of U.S. servicemembers and their allies.