Lockheed's F-35 Production Could Slow By 24 Jets as COVID-19 Hits Suppliers (excerpt)
(Source: Reuters; published May 19, 2020)
By Mike Stone
WASHINGTON --- Lockheed Martin said on Tuesday it will slow production of its stealthy F-35 fighter jets at its Texas facility, possibly delaying delivery of between 18 and 24 jets due to a parts shortage as the coronavirus hampers production across the jet’s vast supply chain.

Greg Ulmer, who runs Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program, told Reuters in an interview that “we’re going to slow the production rate down for about two to three months.”

The virus’ impact on defense production was foreshadowed by Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s chief weapon’s buyer, who in April said she anticipated that major weapons programs would experience a three-month delay.

Companies that make parts for the structural components of the jet aircraft are having to slow production due to the virus, Ulmer said. (end of excerpt)


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Lockheed Martin Announces Proactive Measures to Mitigate COVID-19 Impacts to F-35 Production
(Source: Lockheed Martin; issued May 19, 2020)
FORT WORTH, Texas --- In response to previously reported COVID-19 F-35 supplier delays, Lockheed Martin is taking proactive measures to mitigate impacts and position the program for the fastest possible recovery by adjusting work schedules, maintaining specialized employee skillsets, and accelerating payments to small and vulnerable suppliers, to continue meeting customer commitments.

Today Lockheed Martin and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) agreed to a temporary alternate work schedule for F-35 production line employees in Fort Worth to maintain their skilled workforce.

The new schedule, which will begin May 23, divides each shift into three groups. On a rotation, each group will work for two weeks and then will have a week off. During the adjusted three-week work schedule, employees who work 96 hours or more will be compensated an additional 24 hours for their off week while receiving full pay and benefits.

The alternate schedule allows Lockheed Martin to staff the production line to meet a slower workflow resulting from supplier delays. In addition, it provides a work rhythm that retains the expertise of the talented workforce and provides opportunities to adjust work to better support production.

“These are challenging times, but managing tough challenges is when the F-35 program performs at its best. The alternate work schedule maintains the specialized skillset of the employees and provides opportunities to for us to adjust our workflow to account for supplier delays due to COVID-19,” said Aeronautics Executive Vice President Michele Evans. “Our F-35 workforce is the best in the world at what they do, and we will continue to deliver on our customer’s mission.”

The temporary alternate work schedule agreement will continue for its first three-week cycle. The company will then evaluate business needs and can alter the schedule as needed with the option to discontinue as warranted or continue until Sept. 4. Lockheed Martin and the IAM have also agreed to allow employees to volunteer to be furloughed for 30 days where they maintain their benefits but forgo pay during this period.

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