The 300th of more than 3,000 planned F-35 Lightning IIs has been delivered by Lockheed Martin.
The aircraft, an F-35A for the US Air Force, was delivered to Hill AFB in Utah on June 11, marking another key milestone as the once-troubled program gains momentum.
The milestone comes just weeks after Israel announced it has used the F-35 in combat, the first operational employment of the aircraft by any operator.
“The F-35 weapons system is a key enabler of our National Defense Strategy and is providing our warfighters the combat proven, advanced capabilities they need to meet mission requirements,” program executive officer (PEO) for the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO), Vice Admiral Mat Winter said in a statement.
“The 300th production aircraft delivery is a significant milestone that highlights the effective F-35 Enterprise collaboration across the JPO, US services, partners and industry. Moving forward, our F-35 team remains committed to driving costs down, quality up and faster delivery timelines across our development, production and sustainment lines of effort.”
The 300 aircraft delivered to date comprise 197 F-35As (including six for the RAAF), 75 short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35Bs, and 28 aircraft carrier-capable F-35Cs. Lockheed Martin says more than 620 pilots and 5,600 maintainers have been trained on the aircraft, and that 140,000 hours have been flown by the fleet.
66 F-35s were delivered in 2017, and 91 are due to be delivered in 2018. Production is scheduled to peak at about 160 aircraft per year in 2023, although the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has recommended a delay to full-rate multi-year production (MYP) until ongoing production issues and development risk have been fully addressed.