- The Washington Times - Monday, January 3, 2022

Lockheed Martin made its quota of F-35 fighter jets for 2021 and even managed to roll a few more off the assembly line, even as COVID-19 and supply chain challenges bedeviled the defense industry.

The Bethesda, Md.-based defense giant delivered 139 aircraft, meeting its joint government and industry production commitment for the year with three more F-35s completed to support the company’s 2022 list, Lockheed Martin officials said Monday.

To date, the company has delivered more than 750 aircraft operating from 34 bases and ships around the globe.

Lockheed Martin officials credited a number of emerging technologies, such as smart tools and connected machines, for overcoming production challenges in 2021.

In September, the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin agreed on a revamped F-35 production baseline that would ensure “predictability and stability” in the aircraft production process as the company ramped up its production to make up for the shortfall from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The operational performance of the F-35 remains strong, company officials said. In 2021, the fighters participated in more than 60 missions, including the first Navy F-35C deployment aboard the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier. A group of F-35Bs from the US Marine Corps took part in the first deployment of the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy’s flagship. 

Lockheed Martin said nine countries have F-35s operating from a base on their home soil, while six military services have deployed them in combat. Last year, Switzerland and Finland selected the F-35 for their fighter jet programs.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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