US says F-35 fighter jet program achieves full-rate production

By Thomson Reuters Mar 12, 2024 | 6:41 PM

(Reuters) – The F-35 fighter jet program achieved full-rate production after the successful completion of a crucial series of tests last year, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) said on Tuesday.

Full-rate production, known as Milestone C, in the advanced fighter jet program signifies the completion of operational testing, allowing the Pentagon’s acquisition chief to approve “full rate” production.

Reaching full-rate production could translate into increased funding, either through progress funding or higher jet production numbers, benefiting Lockheed Martin, the F-35’s prime contractor.

“This decision – backed by my colleagues in the Department -highlights to the Services, F-35 Cooperative Program Partners, and Foreign Military Sales customers that the F-35 is stable and agile, and that all statutory and regulatory requirements have been appropriately addressed,” said Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment William A. LaPlante.

However, a lingering issue on the TR-3 tech refresh remains unresolved, which is potentially a final barrier for Lockheed Martin from getting the full amount it charges for each jet sold.

The program has already delivered more than 990 F-35 jets to various customers, including the U.S. military, international partners, and foreign military sales.

(Reporting by Pratyush Thakur in Bengaluru; Editing by Jamie Freed)