Lockheed Martin plots F-35 production rate plan coming out of Covid-19

by Pat Host

Lockheed Martin is finalising a plan to stabilise F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) deliveries over the next 4–5 years following disruptions in 2020–21 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A F-35B as seen on 10 June 2021 at Lockheed Martin's production facility in Fort Worth, Texas. The company is finalising a plan for stabilising F-35 deliveries over the next 4-5 years following disruptions in 2020-21 due to Covid-19. (Lockheed Martin)

A F-35B as seen on 10 June 2021 at Lockheed Martin's production facility in Fort Worth, Texas. The company is finalising a plan for stabilising F-35 deliveries over the next 4-5 years following disruptions in 2020-21 due to Covid-19. (Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin spokesman Brett Ashworth said on 16 June while initial discussions with the Pentagon over future aircraft delivery rates indicate 169 aircraft deliveries in 2022, this has not been finalised. A company official told reporters on 10 June at the F-35 production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, that Lockheed Martin delivered 120 F-35s in 2020. The company expects to deliver 133–139 aircraft this year.

On 19 May 2020 Lockheed Martin officials announced a restructuring of the F-35 production plan to account for slowdowns in part deliveries resulting from Covid-19's impact on subcontractor production rates. This restructuring and other Covid-19 effects were expected to reduce the 141 F-35 deliveries planned in 2020 to between 117–123, according to a 27 May 2020 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report.

The Lockheed Martin official said that this delivery stabilisation plan, called ‘production smoothing', would level the highs and lows in future production quantities. This would bring benefits to the company's factory, workforce, and supply chain, the company official said.

F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) spokesperson Laura Seal said on 17 June that it is currently in discussions with the US armed services and the programme's international partners regarding Covid-19 recovery and production smoothing. This engagement, she said, includes negotiations with Lockheed Martin concerning production numbers for 2022 and beyond.

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Lockheed Martin is finalising a plan to stabilise F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) deliv...

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