On Friday, December 15, Lockheed Martin delivered the 66th F-35 aircraft for the year, meeting the joint government and industry delivery target for 2017. The delivery rate in 2017 represents more than a 40 percent 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.
As the SDB II program is nearing completion of developmental testing Raytheon has completed the first production lot of the Small Diameter Bomb II (designated GBU-53/B) at its fully-automated manufacturing facility in Tucson, Arizona.
The Israel Air Force declared its F-35I unit operational today, following the year-long initial operational capability qualification of 140 Squadron (‘Golden Eagle’) the first IAF unit operating the Fifth Generation fighter (dubbed ‘Adir’ by the IAF). By the summer of 2018, the squadron is expected to receive six more fighters.
The United Kingdom is preparing its F-35 Lightning II to carry and operate the Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) as its principal long-range air/air weapon.
The Air Force will deploy a small number of F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft this weekend on a long-planned training deployment to Europe, Pentagon officials announced today.