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F-35 passes 500th delivery milestone

04 March 2020
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The 500th Lightning II was a US Air Force F-35A destined for Burlington Air National Guard Base in Vermont. Source: Lockheed Martin

The 500th production-standard F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) was delivered by Lockheed Martin and the Joint Program Office (JPO) on 3 March.

The milestone at the Fort Worth facility in Texas took place nine years after production standard deliveries first began in May 2011. Besides Fort Worth, aircraft have also been delivered from the Final Assembly and Check-Out (FACO) facilities in Italy and Japan.

With the 500th aircraft being a conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35A for the US Air Force (USAF), 354 F-35A, 108 F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL), and 38 F-35C carrier variant (CV) JSFs have now been delivered to US and international customers.

As noted by Lockheed Martin, the delivery of the 500th aircraft coincided with achieving 250,000 flight hours across the international fleet.

The F-35 operates from 23 bases worldwide, and more than 985 pilots and more than 8,890 maintainers are trained. Nine nations use the F-35 from their home soil, eight services have declared initial operating capability, and five services (Israeli Air Force, UK Royal Air Force/Royal Navy, US Marine Corps [USMC], and US Air Force [USAF]) have employed F-35s in combat operations.

Lockheed Martin recently disclosed that it was pleased with the mission capability rates for the aircraft. The company noted that the USAF has reported 90% mission-capable rates for the F-35A during 'Red Flag' exercises, while the USMC has reported 75% for the F-35B during its real-world combat deployment to the Middle East and Afghanistan.

With the 500th delivery milestone passed, the focus is now on upgrading some of the aircraft's capabilities at the same time as beginning the process of bringing on board some of the international weapon systems that customers have contracted for.

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