The global fleet of F-35 jets has achieved a combined 400,000 flight hours.

665 F-35 jets have been built as of July this year.

Lockheed Martin say that the 400,000 flight hours includes all F-35s in the fleet: developmental test aircraft, training, operational, U.S. and international F-35s.

“This milestone is a testament to the dedicated work of the joint government, military and industry teams sustaining, maintaining, operating and flying F-35s around the globe,” said Bridget Lauderdale, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program.

“With every delivery and every flight hour, the enterprise gets more mature and effective and we are laser focused on continuing to deliver the most capable, available and affordable 5th Generation fighter aircraft.”

Lockheed Martin say in a statement:

“The 5th Generation F-35 is in the fight today and its advanced capabilities continue to transform the way our men and women in uniform conduct operations around the globe. It is the most advanced node in a 21st century warfare network-centric architecture connecting assets in the battlespace, boosting effectiveness and enabling rapid decision-making, giving our pilots an advantage against any adversary and enabling them to execute their mission and come home safe. More than 165,000 flight hours – about 41% of the total – were flown by operational and combat-coded F-35s.

F-35 availability continues to increase as more aircraft enter service. Recent U.S. Air Force data shows the F-35A has the highest mission capable rates across the fighter fleet. The more than 400,000 flight hours encompass 235,329 sorties flown and 224 detachments and deployments completed across the international fleet. During a recent Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) exercise, Exercise Lightning Thunder, the RAAF flew more than 150 sorties and more than 50 weapons deliveries all while maintaining a mission-capable rate of 80%.

In addition, recent U.S. Air Force data shows the F-35A has the highest mission capable rates across the fighter fleet. The U.S. Air Force deployed 42 jets for 18 consecutive months in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility, where the Air Force flew more than 1,300 F-35A sorties with mission capable rates of greater than 70%. Most importantly, pilots returned home safely every time.

F-35 procurement and sustainment cost continue to decrease with every delivery and flight hour. F-35 unit costs have decreased more than 70% since the beginning of the program – now at parity with legacy  aircraft. Over the past five years, Lockheed Martin has lowered its controlled cost per flight hour by 44% and expects to lower it an additional 40% over the next five years. Lockheed Martin continues to leverage technology and partnerships with customers to lower sustainment costs to ensure the U.S. and our allies can affordably operate the F-35.”

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Pete
Pete
7 days ago

“Focused on continuing to deliver the most capable, available and affordable 5th Generation fighter aircraft.”

Only comparing F35 to other 5th gen aircraft with probably the F22 the only transparent benchmark available…thought ambition was to be better, fly further and be lower cost than legacy 4th Gen platforms !….is this a public acknowledgement that costs will, while lowering, remain high relative to many 4th gen.

Still a great aircraft but needs block 4 to tick the capability box for the UK.

Ron5
Ron5
7 days ago
Reply to  Pete

What part of “F-35 unit costs have decreased more than 70% since the beginning of the program – now at parity with legacy  aircraft” do you not understand?

Pete
Pete
7 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Hey Ron. Very aggressive response. I understand very well that cost is a function of both price up front and price to maintain operations (and actually a third cost dimension which many people on here simply wouldn’t get their head around. Which part do you not understand that my comments were to the effect that LM had chosen to state in this article that its benchmark performance and objectives were relative to 5th gen platforms (for which it is impossible to currently benchmark fully) and a change of focus from previous claims. Personally I don’t have access to the relative… Read more »

Ron5
Ron5
6 days ago
Reply to  Pete

No. LM did not state that at all.

Pete
Pete
6 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Ron…taken from above article…!!!

“Lockheed Martin say in a statement……….”

dan
dan
7 days ago
Reply to  Pete

Looks like the Swiss agree with what Lockheed is saying. They just choose it over all the other contenders saying it was cheaper to buy and operate.

Pete
Pete
7 days ago
Reply to  dan

They did Dan. And my comments to that are in that article. I hope they got it right and did strong analysis work.

David
David
7 days ago

Good things come to those who wait?

Will we get all the planned deliveries… in the future?

John N
John N
7 days ago

The F-35A is certainly becoming a very common sight here in Oz flying in and out of RAAF Base Williamtown.

LM has now completed 41 aircraft for the RAAF, another 7 are due by years end.

Cheers,

Jack
Jack
7 days ago
Reply to  John N

Rub it in why don’t you ? We’ll get ours too……..eventually 🙂

John N
John N
7 days ago
Reply to  Jack

Mate, rub it in? Ok, I will! Ha ha! On a serious note the transition from Classic Hornet to F-35A has been going smoothly for the RAAF. By the end of this year three Squadrons will have transitioned, and the last Squadron will park their Classic Hornets and start to transition to their new aircraft early next year. By years end the fleet will be 48 aircraft, another 15 next year, and the last nine in 2023 (72 total, four Squadrons with nominally 18 aircraft each). But that’s not all, somewhere around 2025ish, the Government may proceed with the last… Read more »

Last edited 7 days ago by John N
Klonkie
Klonkie
7 days ago
Reply to  John N

John, send a few over the ditch for a show and tell in Auckland !

John N
John N
7 days ago
Reply to  Klonkie

Mate, I’m sure when things settle down (covid), and the transition from Classic Hornet to F-35A is complete (2023), you’ll see some there.

In the mean time, you can try and convince the Kiwi Govt (cheap bastards) to spend a few dollars and we can sell you some well maintained pre-loved Classic Hornets!

Cheers,

Ian Skinner
Ian Skinner
6 days ago
Reply to  John N

Aren’t the Hornets being flogged to those well known users of antiques, the Canadians?

John N
John N
6 days ago
Reply to  Ian Skinner

Yes we know the Canucks love a bargain, but no, not all of them. Of the 71 RAAF Classic Hornets being retired, our Canuck cousins have procured 18 airframes (all have been delivered), there is the possibly of another ‘up to’ 7 airframes being procured to be used as a source of spares. Of the remaining 46 airframes, I’ve seen reports here in Oz that approx 11 will go to museums, and the remainder were to be purchased by a US based aggressor training company ‘Air USA’. Except that appears to have gone quite in recent times. So potentially there… Read more »

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
7 days ago

And another win for F35 in Switzerland. Interesting to note the purchase cost for 36 F35A’s is $2 billion cheaper than it’s rivals. Would have preferred a win for the Typhoon. But any new F35 orders is more work for the UK. Winner 👍🇬🇧. Will Finland go the same way??

Ron5
Ron5
7 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

The F-35 also scored higher than its rivals on all of the technical & capability tests.

Pete
Pete
7 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Hey Robert. It’s not the purchase cost that is $2b cheaper. It’s a projection of savings over 30 years across the total life cycle…will have considered purchase, fuel, maintenance, spare parts, upgrades, training etc and probably includes offset and other fiscal factors and possibly may consider residual value at end of term. Assume they have done their own detailed cost projections and incorporated robust performance matrix and haven’t simply relied on sales pitches. Often wonder why small to mid tier customers don’t go for a lease arrangement paying for each flight hour at one rate and each hour of otherwise… Read more »

Ron5
Ron5
7 days ago
Reply to  Pete

Incorrect. The purchase price was 2 billion SwFr cheaper.

Pete
Pete
7 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Incorrect Ron. Based on statements from Swiss Government.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2021/06/30/europe/switzerland-f-35-fighters-intl-hnk/index.html

Any party that basis a long term procurement deal on simply the purchase price would be a fool. Cost has to be assessed as on overall cost impact and the Swiss Govt are stating that is what they did. My comment is simply on basis I trust they did it well. There is an art and a science to such evaluations and most practitioners, especially in public service, tend to get it wrong without (approaches are often overly simplistic).

Pete
Pete
7 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

And….if it was based on Purchase price then 2billion saving on 36 units would mean 55million savings per unit over the rival aircraft….lol…hell would buy another 200 at that price Ron.

Ps. I like the F35, I think it represents great capability at an improving price and with block 4 upgrade will be a great asset for the UK. I simply struggle to see how it will represent lower through life costs compared to the Sabb offering for Switzerland

Ron5
Ron5
6 days ago
Reply to  Pete

No. The purchase price is 2 billion cheaper and that rolls into the total acquisition and support savings”. From Flight International, a UK magazine directly quoting the Swiss procurement agency: “An evaluation has revealed that these two systems offer the highest overall benefit at the lowest overall cost,” Bern’s Armasuisse defence procurement agency says. While all four fighter candidates met the nation’s evaluation requirements, Armasuisse says the F-35A procurement bill will total Swfr5.07 billion ($5.48 billion) – roughly Swfr2 billion lower than any of the rival proposals. Bern has budget approval to spend Swfr6 billion on the new fighter fleet,… Read more »

Pete
Pete
6 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Ron. It’s very clear you have no grasp of geeky procurement speak. ‘Overall cost’ is code for life cycle costs’.

Are you seriously suggesting each unit was $55million cheaper than its rivals to purchase up front!….really!!!

.

Ron5
Ron5
7 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

The F-35 also scored higher than its rivals on all of the technical & capability tests in the Swiss competition.

Boris S.
Boris S.
7 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Reading that CNN article, it seems the Swiss have banked hard towards the US, first the Patriot system, now F-35 “Ferrari” option that’s allegedly facing defeat in a referendum. Technical superiority or politics?

Ron5
Ron5
6 days ago
Reply to  Boris S.

F-35 was the cheapest and most technically capable but you reckon it was politics. OK.

Boris S.
Boris S.
6 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

I was asking a genuine question, not making a foregone conclusion.

Also it wasn’t the cheapest, hence why they’re calling it the Ferrari option. They explicitly compare it to the “VW” option of its rivals.

Peter S
Peter S
7 days ago

At the current operating cost of $36000 per flight hour ( which has come down in the last 2 years ) $14.4b has been spent to date. No wonder there are continued expressions of dissatisfaction both here and in Washington.
It is hard to believe that F35 will be cheaper to operate than the other aircraft competing for the Swiss order. But LM has a history of securing orders by any means,,

Ron5
Ron5
7 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

How much is Typhoon per flight hour?

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
7 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Not cheap that’s for sure.

Peter S
Peter S
6 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Reliable numbers are hard to pin down but Janes has given a figure for Typhoon of $18000 per hour(slightly more than Rafale at$16000)This is about half of the current cost of F35. The Gripen is far cheaper than all of these.

Boris S.
Boris S.
7 days ago

I like how the F-35 is slowly going from a laughing stock due to its insanely expensive development and running costs to what seems to be a genuinely good platform that’s not also (a bit more) affordable. And that’s on top of having a great safety record compared to other plane developments of days gone by. Can’t wait to see the Tempest come out and to have a gander at the comparison between them!

Pete
Pete
7 days ago
Reply to  Boris S.

Indeed good safe aircraft with lowering costs that performs well. Anyone know where it is relative to supersonic flight. Is it still a case of supersonic flight if you have to but not for long ?

JJ Smallpiece
JJ Smallpiece
7 days ago

400000hrs and its still a dogs breakfast of an aircraft.

John Hampson
John Hampson
3 days ago

It is time the unquestioning supporters of the F-35 started to recognise the serious problems rather than just regurgitating Lockheed’s propaganda. On 7 July the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report that concluded if current costs continue the US will be unable to operate the F-35 at numbers planned and required. Even allowing for the cost reductions already achieved the GAO report concludes. quote. ““the service’s only available remaining options to meet the affordability constraints are to reduce the total number of F-35A aircraft they plan to purchase, or to reduce the aircraft’s planned flying hours.” If costs… Read more »

Peter S
Peter S
2 days ago
Reply to  John Hampson

You beat me to the post! The GAO report is damning and there is little evidence that LMs promises on support costs will be realised. One interesting detail is that even if spare parts were provided free, the labour costs of support and maintenance would blow the budget. No wonder Ben Wallace has indicated there will be no more purchases by the UK unless support costs are much reduced and integration of UK weapons speeded up. I absolutely agree that a further order of Typhoons is needed. Given the high operational use and the projected in service date for Tempest… Read more »