Even with COVID-19, Lockheed Martin exceeds 2021 F-35 production target

Lockheed Martin hit its quota of F-35 fighter jets for 2021 and even managed to get a few more off the assembly line, even as COVID-19 and supply chain challenges tormented the defense industry.

The Bethesda, Md.-Based defense giant delivered 139 planes, meeting its joint government and industry production commitment for the year with three more F-35s completed to support the 2022 list of the company, Lockheed Martin officials said Monday.

To date, the company has delivered over 750 aircraft operating from 34 bases and ships around the world.

Lockheed Martin officials have credited a number of emerging technologies, such as smart tools and connected machines, with overcoming production challenges in 2021.

In September, the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin agreed on a new F-35 production base line that would ensure “predictability and stability” in the aircraft production process as the company ramps up production to close the deficit of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The operational performance of the F-35 remains strong, company officials said. In 2021, fighters took part in more than 60 missions, including the Navy’s first deployment of the F-35C aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. A group of F-35Bs from the US Marine Corps participated in the first deployment of HMS Queen Elizabeth, the flagship of the Royal Navy.

Lockheed Martin said nine countries have F-35s operating from a base on their soil, while six military services have them deployed in combat. Last year, Switzerland and Finland selected the F-35 for their fighter aircraft programs.

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