The F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin have delivered the 300th production F-35 aircraft, a USAF F-35A that will be delivered to Hill Air Force Base, Utah.
"The F-35 weapons system is providing our warfighters the combat proven, advanced capabilities they need to meet mission requirements," Vice Admiral Mat Winter, program executive officer for the F-35 Joint Program Office, said.
"The 300th production aircraft delivery is a significant milestone that highlights the effective F-35 enterprise collaboration across the JPO, U.S. services, partners and industry."
The first 300 F-35s include 197 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variants, 75 F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variants, and 28 F-35C carrier variants (CV). Over 620 pilots and 5,600 maintainers have been trained, and the F-35 fleet has amassed more than 140,000 cumulative flight hours.
“This milestone is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our joint government and industry team as we collaborate to deliver transformational F-35 capabilities to the men and women in uniform,” Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager of the F-35 program, said.
“We are focused on reducing costs, increasing efficiencies, and ensuring the highest level of quality as we ramp to full rate production and sustainment of the operational fleet.”
Lockheed Martin says it is on track to reduce the cost of an F-35A to $80 million by 2020 through process efficiencies, production automation, facility and tooling upgrades, and supply chain initiatives.
In a statement, Lockheed said that the price of an F-35A has come down more than 60 per cent from the first contract, touch labor has been reduced by about 75 per cent over the last five years, amd production span time has decreased by about 20 per cent since 2015.
The news comes as Kongsberg announced an order from Lockheed Martin valued at $86 million for deliveries of F-35 structural parts, including rudders and vertical leading edges.
“This order demonstrates Kongsberg’s continued competitiveness of high end manufacturing for the F-35 program. We are also pleased to see how the program ramps up and the associated increased yearly production quantities," Terje Bråthen, executive vice president, Kongsberg, said.
91 F-35 aircraft are due to be delivered in 2018, including eight to Australia. The first two will arrive at RAAF Williamtown later this year.
The fighter was recently used in combat operations by Israel, a first for the platform.