Driving Costs Down and Quality Up
On 11 June, Lockheed Martin announced delivery of the 300th F-35 LIGHTNING II – a US Air Force F-35A to be delivered to Hill AFB, UT.
“The F-35 weapons system is a key enabler of our National Defense Strategy and is providing our warfighters the combat proven, advanced capabilities they need to meet mission requirements,” commented the Program Executive Officer for the Joint Program Office (JPO), Vice-Adm. Mat Winter. “The 300th production aircraft delivery is a significant milestone that highlights the effective F-35 enterprise collaboration across the JPO, US services, partners and industry. Moving forward, our F-35 team remains committed to driving costs down, quality up and faster delivery timelines across our development, production and sustainment lines of effort.”
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). They have been delivered to both US and international customers. More than 620 pilots and 5,600 maintainers have been trained, and the F-35 fleet has surpassed 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,” stated Lockheed Martin Vice President and General Manager of the F-35 programme, Greg Ulmer. “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.”
As production volume increases and additional efficiencies are implemented, Lockheed Martin is on track to reduce the cost of an F-35A to $80 million by 2020, which is equal to or less than legacy fourth generation aircraft. With the incorporation of lessons learned, process efficiencies, production automation, facility and tooling upgrades, supply chain initiatives and more, the F-35 enterprise has already significantly reduced costs and improved efficiency. For example:
- The price of an F-35A has come down more than 60% from the first contract;
- Touch labour has been reduced by about 75% over the last five years;
- Production span time has decreased by about 20% since 2015.
The F-35 enterprise met its 2017 delivery target of 66 aircraft, representing a more than 40% increase over 2016. In 2018, the team is targeting 91 aircraft deliveries and is preparing to increase production volume year-over-year to hit a rate of approximately 160 aircraft in 2023.
The F-35 is built by thousands of men and women in America and around the world. With more than 1,500 suppliers in 46 states and Puerto Rico, the F-35 programme supports more than 194,000 direct and indirect jobs in the US alone. The programme also includes more than 100 international suppliers, creating or sustaining thousands of international jobs.