Lockheed, Pentagon agree to F-35 'production smoothing' plan

By Courtney Albon / September 27, 2021 at 8:53 AM

The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin have negotiated a “production smoothing” agreement for F-35 deliveries to increase stability as the company’s production process recovers from the impact of COVID-19.

The plan calls for Lockheed to deliver 133-139 jets this year, 151-153 in 2022 and 156 in 2023 “and for the foreseeable future,” according to a statement the company released this morning.

The projected delivery rates for 2021 match what Lockheed’s F-35 Vice President and General Manager Bridget Lauderdale told reporters in June while negotiations were underway but are slightly lower in 2022 than the company’s projections at the time, which saw deliveries hitting the 160s next year.

At the time, Lauderdale said the production line and supply base were stabilizing “and we will expect to ramp back up and support cost-effective and high quality of product as we go forward.”

The delivery targets come as the program is finalizing negotiations on a production contract for lots 15-17 aircraft. Program Executive Eric Fick told reporters recently he does not expect a finalized deal this month but hopes it will be completed in October.