The F-35 Joint Program Office and prime contractor Lockheed Martin recently recorded a historic milestone for the single-seat, single-engine fighter jet: Delivery of the 500th production F-35 fighter aircraft to the Burlington, Vt. Air National Guard Base. The jet is a U.S. Air Force F-35A with full complement of radar and electronic-warfare (EW) systems. The 500 aircraft include numerous variations for different types of missions, for U.S. and international customers alike: 354 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) fighters, 108 F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) fighters, and 38 F-35C carrier variant (CV) aircraft. The 500 F-35 variants have amassed a total of 250,000 flight hours, including training and developmental test jets.
“These milestones are a testament to the talent and dedication of the joint government, military and industry teams,” said Greg Ulmer, vice-president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program. “The F-35 is delivering an unprecedented 5th Generation combat capability to the warfighter at the cost of a 4th Generation legacy aircraft.”
The F-35 is the result of design and production teamwork by leading U.S. and international manufacturers. For example, while Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems contribute the design and construction of center and aft fuselages, respectively, along with expertise on advanced electronic tactical systems. The F135 propulsion system that powers the F-35 is built by Pratt & Whitney and is the world’s most powerful fighter engine. The F-35 operates from 23 bases worldwide. More than 985 pilots are trained to fly and over 8,890 engineers/technicians are trained to maintain the aircraft.