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  • Writer's pictureFrank Visser

2020 Lockheed Martin F-35 program update

Updated: Mar 26, 2023

Now the F-35 becomes a common sight in many countries around the world, an update reveals the size of this program. By May 2020 the manufacturer Lockheed Martin communicated the following facts.

AA-1 was the first and only preproduction F-35A. On December 15, 2006 it flew for the first time.

AF-01 was the first production F-35A. It was used during several trials from Edwards AFB.
F-35A AF-04 with chase plane during the SDD program at Edwards AFB.

Of the 3.000+ aircraft to be manufactured, 520+ F-35s had been produced and delivered to its customer at the beginning of May this year. When production started in 2009 a total of nine aircraft were produced that year. Last year 134 F-35s rolled off the production lines at Fort Worth, Texas and Cameri, Italy.

The 53rd Wing operates two squadrons with the F-35A. First one is the 31st TES based at Edwards AFB and the second squadron is 422nd TES, based at Nellis AFB.

At this moment F-35s worldwide have flown over 280.000+ hours from 25 bases. This also includes ship activations.

The 25 bases are:

1. Amendola Air Base, Italy

2. Cheongju Air Base, Republic of Korea

3. Edwards AFB, California

4. Eglin AFB, Florida

5. Eielson AFB, Alaska

6. Hill AFB, Utah

7. Leeuwarden Air Base, The Netherlands

8. Luke AFB, Arizona

9. MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina

10. MCAS Iwakuni, Japan

11. MCAS Yuma, Arizona

12. MCAS Miramar, California

13. Misawa Air Base, Japan

14. NAS Lemoore, California

15. NAS Patuxent River, Maryland

16. Nellis AFB, Nevada

17. Nevatim Air Base, Israel

18. Ørland Air Base, Norway

19. RAF Marham, United Kingdom

20. Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown, Australia

21. Burlington International Airport, Vermont Ships

22. USS Essex

23. USS Wasp

24. USS America

25. HMS Queen Elizabeth

Nine nations (Unites States, Great Britain, Italy, Israel, Japan, Norway, Australia, The Netherlands, and South Korea) operate the F-35 from their soil of which the first six countries mentioned already declared Initial Operating Capability. For the Unites States this counts for the US Air Force, the US Navy and the US Marine Corps. Operational missions have already been flown by six forces (USAF, USMC, Royal Air Force, Israeli Air Force, Italian Air Force and Royal Norwegian Air Force).

A total of 1.005+ pilots have already graduated their training on one of the three types (F-35A, F-35B or F-35C) and for maintainers this figure rises to over 9.185+.

Recent milestones

  • The Israeli Air Force and US Air Force participated in a Joint F-35 exercise, called Enduring Lightning.

  • Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314 received 'safe for flight' certification in the F-35C, which gave the US Navy its second operational F-35 Squadron.

  • The US Air Force demonstrated the Rapid Unit Dynamic Employment (RUDE) concept with a F-35A squadron.

  • Norwegian and Italian F-35s deployed to Iceland to conduct NATO Air Policing operations.

  • Since LRIP 1 the cost reduction was greater than 70%.

  • The costs reduction from LRIP 11 to LRIP 14 has been decreased by 12,8% for the F-35A. For the F-35B is has been 12,3% and the F-35C 13,2%.

  • The price of a LRIP 14 F-35A was reduced to $ 77,9 Million per aircraft.

  • New foreign orders came from Belgium (34 F-35A) and Poland (32 F-35A).

  • The F-35 is built and sustained by 1.900+ suppliers around the globe.

  • In the United States this counts for 254.000 direct and indirect jobs, just for building the F-35 and thousands more in 10+ countries.

Planned orders

US Air Force: is planning to order 1.763 F-35As.

A F-35A of the 33rd FW, Eglin AFB.

The 56th FW at Luke AFB train future F-35A pilots for the USAF and foreign Air Forces.

The USAF Weapons School is part of the 57th FW at Nellis AFB.

Just returning from a pre-delivery flight at Fort Worth,Texas this F-35A is destined for the 388th FW at Hill AFB, Utah.

The US Marine Corps and US Navy: are planning to order 693 F-35B and F-35Cs.

VX-9 operates the F-35C carrier version at Edwards AFB.

Two US Navy F-35s. The left picture shows a F-35C from VFA-101 and the right one from VFA-125.

F-35 testing within the USMC is executed by VMX-1 based at MCAS Yuma.

USMC squadron VMFA-121 is now deployed to Japan and stationed at MCAS Iwakuni.

USMC squadron VMFA-122 operates their F-35Bs from MCAS Yuma.

USMC VMFA-211 is the second F-35B squadron stationed at MCAS Yuma.

Future USMC and British F-35B pilots are trained by VMFAT-501 at Beaufort MCAS.

The Royal Netherlands Air Force The Royal Netherlands Air Force has ordered 46 F-35As and would like to increase this number to 69, so it can operate four operational squadrons.

The F-001 was the first F-35A delivered to the RNLAF. It is used for the OT&E by 323 TES at Edwards AFB. Due to the 70th Anniversary this aircraft received special coloured tail markings.

The second F-35A for the RNLAF (F-002) is also used by 323 TES at Edwards AFB.

The first operational F-35A build by the Lockheed Martin factory in Cameri, Italy was the F-009.

This aircraft was delivered to 322 TACTESS at Leeuwarden airbase on the 31 Oktober 2019.

Italian Air Force This South European Air Force has ordered 60 F-35As and 30 F-35Bs. The initial plan was to order 67 F-35As and 62 F-35Bs.

Italian F-35As at Luke AFB also wear the markings of 32° Stormo 'Armando Boetto'. Like the Norwegians the Italians are trained at the 62nd FS, which is based at Luke AFB.

Royal Norwegian Air Force

One of the first customers of the F-35A was the Royal Norwegian Air Force. A total of 52 F-35A were ordered.

For training the Norwegian pilots some F-35 aircraft are stationed at Luke AFB. Newly produced aircraft are flown over in badges of three to Norway.

Royal Air Force and Royal Navy

The United Kingdom has ordered 138 F-38Bs for its Royal Air Force and Navy.

This picture shows one of the early production aircraft.

Israeli Air Force

At this moment Israel has ordered 50 F-35A, called F-35I Adir. Initially Israel wanted to order 100 F-35As. This figure was reduced to 75 F-35As to replace the F-16s.

This F-35A still without its Israeli Air Force markings, seen here departing from Fort Worth

on a pre delivery flight.

Royal Australian Air Force

With 100 F-35A on order, together with the United Kingdom and Japan, Australia is one of the larger customers of the F-35.

Japan Air Self Defense Force

Until now Japan has ordered 105 F-35As and 42 F-35Bs.

These photos were taken during the time the JASDF F-35As were stationed at Luke AFB and trained at the 944th Operations Group, Detachment 2.

Republic of Korea Air Force

South Korea has ordered 40 F-35As.

Future F-35 pilots are trained at the 944th Operations Group, Detachment 2 at Luke AFB.

Turkish Air Force

The Turkish Air Force had plans to order 116 F-35As. In total 6 F-35As were ordered. Following the delivery of the Russian S-400 Air Defence System, all following orders were cancelled by the USA. Turkey was kicked out of the program and all delivered aircraft went into storage.

Three different Turkish Air Force F-35As, which are now stored and possibly sold to another customer.

Orders which are not yet in production

Canada 88 F-35A

Denmark 27 F-35A

Belgium 34 F-35A

Poland 32 F-35A

Singapore 12 F-35B (In January 2020, the US government approved the procurement of 12 F-35Bs)

Source: LockheedMartin May 2020

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