Lockheed Martin recently delivered the 91st F-35 aircraft for the year, meeting the joint government and industry delivery target for 2018.

The company say that 91 deliveries in 2018 represent nearly a 40 percent increase from 2017 and about a 100 percent production increase compared to 2016. Next year, Lockheed Martin is set to deliver more than 130 F-35s representing a 40 percent increase in production.

“This milestone demonstrates the F-35 enterprise is prepared for full rate production and ready to deliver on increasing demand from our customers worldwide,” said Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager of the F-35 programme.

“Year-over-year, we have increased production, lowered costs, reduced build time, and improved quality and on-time deliveries. Today, the F-35 is the most capable fighter jet in the world, and we’re delivering more aircraft per year than any other fighter on the market at equal to or less cost.”

The 91st aircraft is a U.S. Marine Corps F-35B, to be delivered to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina. In 2018, deliveries included 54 F-35s for the United States, 21 for international partner nations and 16 for Foreign Military Sales customers.

“To date, more than 355 F-35s have been delivered and are now operating from 16 bases worldwide. More than 730 pilots and over 6,700 maintainers are trained and the F-35 fleet has surpassed more than 175,000 cumulative flight hours.

The price of an F-35A is now $89.2 million and the enterprise is on track to deliver an $80 million F-35A by 2020 (Lot 14), which is equal to or less than the price of less capable, 4th generation aircraft.”

Ten nations are flying the F-35, seven countries have F-35s operating from a base on their home soil, four services have declared Initial Operating Capability, and two services have announced their F-35s have been used in combat operations.

19 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve not seen any press releases on the subject so I’ll ask here… Does anyone know whether 617 Sqn has achieved IOC ?

    • I don’t think they have yet. This year or next I believe.

      Which is stupid as we’re losing the final 3 Tornado squadrons this year with nothing to replace them.

      • They are kinda being replaced by Typhoon which has been upgraded to carry storm shadow and Brimstone 2, as well as Paveway 4 which has been in service on Typhoon for somtime now, alongside the Meteor about to enter service to replace AMRAAM and a whole host of other upgrades. It doesn’t replace the airframe numbers unfortunately, but we keep the GR4 capability plus a lot more.

    • According to the RAF’s website, IOC for 617 Sqn was December 2018, with the OCU forming this July and 809 NAS in 2023.

      • Thanks Callum, i did think that was the plan. If it did happen i would have thought the RAF/ Mod would have produced a press release or two about it. IOC is meant to mean that 617 is combat ready, from land bases, with asraam,amraam and PW4.

      • Ref losing the final 3 Tornado squadrons with nothing to replace them, two of the three have already gone, 1X and 12, they went last year. But both have reformed on Typhoons, 1X on Typhoon Tranche 1s at Lossiemouth and 12 on Typhoon FG4s in a joint training squadron with the Qatar air force, who are taking delivery of their 24 new Typhoons.

        There is only 31 Squadron still flying 10 Tornados, they disband later this year and provide the aircrew to fill out 617 Sqn and no doubt the OCU, 207 Sqn, which is meant to stand up on 1st July.
        617’s IOC is for land only, their Carrier IOC is two years away, 2021.

        I think we only have 15 Lightnings so far, excluding the 3 that will permanently reside in the USA, so nowhere near enough to form a squadron and OCU as yet. It is a slow old business!

        • Only because the government are deliberately making it slow. If they were truly committed we could have had more than that by now.

          • I think there are two reasons, both valid, for the government going slow on deliveries.

            One, Lightning is basically still in the development phase and things are being sorted out, and retro-engineered, in each of the Low Rate Initial Production phases. It makes sense to hold off taking a large consignment until all the gremlins are fixed and the price comes down, which is happening now.

            Two, the F-35s are likely delayed until we have our full complement of Typhoons, I think the last 8 are still to be delivered next year. 8 seems to be the maximum number of fast jet combat aircraft that we can acquire per year on the current FJCA budget, so I guess we are deliberately slowing the delivery of F-35 until we can afford to pay for them!

            I feel we have probably had our fair share of the B version anyway. The orders for the B version are allegedly 478, of which three-quarters are for the USMC. We have only placed firm orders for 48 so far, so 10% of the total. The total produced so far is 105 to end of 2017, with maybe two dozen more last year, say 140 in total.

            10% of 140 is 14 aircraft, we have received 18, so that sounds fair enough.

            Lockheed were meant to go into full production last year but they can’t do so until they get Congressional approval, which I don’t think they have yet. So it is all working out very conveniently for the MOD’s threadbare budget.

  2. The problem with losing the GR4s and saying they have reformed on Typhoon is that it ignores the reality that these are not additional Typhoon aircraft.

    They are just spreading the existing even further to keep up number plates.

    As usual it’s all about numbers. And HMG spin it talking of standing up new squadrons and even increasing the 8 front line units to 9.

    I recall around 30 squadrons in 1995. 12 GR1. 7 F3. 3 Jaguar. 3 Harrier. 2 Phantom. And 2 Sea Harrier.

    The 7 F3 units were gradually wittled down, starting with the 3 Leeming units.

    The Jags went in 2004 “New Chapter”

    In 2010 when the Tories came in it was unthinkable that we had reduced to a mere 12 squadrons. 4 GR4 at Marham. 3 GR4 at Lossimouth. 2 Typhoon at Coningsby. 2 F3 at Leuchars. And a single Harrier Squadron.

    We were heading for just 6 fighter squadrons until this spin with reforming them into Typhoon units on existing aircraft.

    I expect the 2 extra Typhoon units will become F35 units over time and we end up with 9 units, split 5/4.

    • Seems barmy to me: we have more aircraft and can afford more.

      I don’t see why the 138 F35bs we’re buying have to be over such a long period of time. We’ll never have all at once but to me that is retarded.

      138 F35s could produce the following:

      6 frontline squadrons totalling 72 planes.
      1 OCU shared between RN and RAF: 12 planes
      1 shared test & evaluation squadron: 12 planes
      42 spare airframes.

      I think it’s a good idea to have more squadrons of Typhoons as you mentioned. Even from our existing stock. Seems daft to have half the Typhoon force made up of spares that will be used as spare parts. Granted, we need some spares but we need more operational airframes more.

    • It seems the RAF crew/pilots for 617 Squadron came from two Tornado squadrons disbanded in 2014, 1 had to be reformed in an emergency for Operation Shader.

      The RAF have only enough crews for only half of the Typhoons procured!

  3. Yes, there are nowhere near enough Typhoons to form the current 7 squadrons. They must have reduced the squadrons from 12 to 10 front-line aircraft to make it work, so there’s the usual smoke and mirrors behind boasting that we have 7 squadrons when it’s barely 6 stretched thinly.

    I’d think there is no chance, on current MOD plans, that there will be any more than 5 Typhoon sqns eventually and more like 4. The two ex-Tornado squadrons, 9 and 1X, will move to F-35s when we have sufficient numbers, to form the 2nd RAF Lightning sqn and a good part of the 2nd RN one.

    • The RAF has really got enough Typhoon’s, but it is a Manpower problem, insufficient crews and pilots to man Squadrons. Which also results in smaller squadrons.
      Half of the Typhoon’s procured are in strorage.
      Also half of the new crews and pilots for the F-35B will be FAA(Navy), and 2nd F-35B squadron, will be 809 NAS(Navy) standing up in 2023. No plans for a 2nd RAF F-35 squadron yet.

      • I do not believe that the RAF has anywhere near enough Typhoons to man 7 squadrons.

        A standard squadron is 19.5 aircraft (12 front-line, 3 squadron reserve, 3 wartime reserve, 1.5 attrition reserve). 7 squadrons at normal strength would thus be 134 aircraft. Add on another 19 for the OCU, 4 for the Falklands flight, 4 for the OEU, 4 for the wings, takes you up to about 165.

        We currently have something like 136, which will rise to 144 when the last Typhoons are delivered this year. That is 29 aircraft short, basically 1.5 sqns.

        If the RAF pilots working with the Qatari air force are flying Qatari Typhoons, that would cut the shortfall a bit, but we’d still be short of a squadron’s-worth of planes. I really wish that the MOD had ordered another batch of 20, that would keep us in business until the Tempest or whatever shows up, which could be a couple of decades away.

        What’s the cause of the lack of pilots? Too many leaving the service, not enough recruits coming through the Capita obstacle course?

  4. We have all the typhoons we need but its the same old story. Mothballed or in storage. We are perfectly capable of operating 120 typhoons if the will is there. It isnt. It’s a superb aircraft and it’s development over the past few years has provided us with a very effective all rounder, if not quite a top class opening bat!

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