Due to pandemic-related slowdowns, Lockheed Martin expects to deliver 122 F-35s in calendar year 2020—20 less than planned. To avoid surging and then slowing production on the line, which would increase cost, the delayed jets will be delivered over the next two years, company executive vice president for aeronautics Michele A. Evans said Sept. 9.
“It’s actually going to take us a couple of years to recover those 20 jets,” Evans said in an interview with Air Force Magazine. “What we don’t want to do is drive our capacity way up” to make up the shortage and then ramp down to a more efficient rate afterwards, she said, creating “spikes and low points.”
The company has an agreement with the F-35 Joint Program Office “that by 2023 we will have recovered whatever jets we don’t deliver this year, and it’s really helping them” by giving suppliers who may have been affected by the pandemic the ability to recover their production capacity more predictably.
“We’re really now at ramp rate on F-35, so we really want to stick at that rate, and we want our suppliers to optimize and drive cost efficiency,” she said. Leveling off at about 11 airplanes per month “makes sense in terms of capability and cost.” (end of excerpt)
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