Rising Pressures Cloud Optimistic F-35 Sales Outlook (excerpt)
(Source: Aviation Week; posted July 21, 2020)
By Steve Trimble
Lockheed Martin has marketed the F-35 successfully to 14 countries over nearly 20 years. Subtracting Turkey’s canceled program for 100 jets, Lockheed still boasts commitments from 13 countries to buy nearly 3,220 F-35s, with deliveries projected out to 2046. Three more countries with a combined requirement for about 200 fighters are evaluating the F-35 in competitive tenders, and another five have publicly discussed a long-term interest in acquiring the aircraft.

That is the good news for the only supersonic, stealthy fighter with a short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing variant on the export market today.

But that otherwise optimistic sales outlook is clouded by resource constraints, shifting priorities and new technological advances that threaten a large portion of the planned orders in the F-35 program of record. Moreover, the recent expulsion of Turkey from the program because of its acquisition of Russian military hardware highlights rising pressure from political interference on high-profile foreign arms sales.

The U.S.-led F-35 Joint Program Office declared in 2009 that total sales of the F-35 could reach 6,000, but more than a decade later government and Lockheed officials prefer to size the global market at around 4,000. Even the more modest projection may depend on maintaining the original orderbook of the U.S. Air Force, the program’s largest customer, with an official requirement for 1,763 F-35As. (end of excerpt)


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