Supply chain problems hit the Pentagon as Lockheed will ship fewer F-35 fighter jets next year

Supply chain problems have hit the Pentagon after Lockheed Martin said it will ship fewer F-35 fighter jets next year.

The billion-dollar Maryland-based defense company said it has revised its delivery schedule due to production restrictions related to the pandemic.

According to the Pentagon’s F-35 program office, seen by… Bloomberg, the company would deliver between 158 and 163 fighter jets by 2022.

However, in a new release to be distributed Monday, the company has predicted it will ship between 151 and 153 jets next year, and another 156 in 2023 and every year after that “for the foreseeable future.”

The Lockheed Martin statement said the production overhaul for lots 12 to 14 “will bring predictability and stability to the manufacturing process while also repairing the aircraft shortage that has been realized over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to the announcement, the largest US defense contractor is expected to deliver between 133 and 139 aircraft this year.

Supply chain problems hit the Pentagon after Lockheed Martin said it will ship fewer F-35 fighter jets next year (photo, file photo)

Next month, the US Department of Defense is expected to set a new schedule for a major milestone in its $398 billion acquisition program — the Pentagon’s most expensive — as it aims to conduct a month-long stimulus.

The exercise is intended to test the F-35 against most advanced air defense and aircraft in possession of foreign advice, and is a step needed to make a decision on full production, Bloomberg reported.

Richard Aboulafia, aviation analyst at Teal Group, told the business news outlet in an email that the revised schedule: “shows the production constraints and supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic and likely other causes.

‘Losing out at 156 per year’ (after 2022) ‘is not bad, but it is not the 170 plus we expected in the coming years.’

In a July report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on F-35 support, a maintenance said the program planned to deliver 158 aircraft deliveries by 2021, starting in April.

But the report added that nearly all of Lockheed Martin’s F-35s delivered were overdue, noting that the company “is not expected to deliver all 158 aircraft, according to program officials.”

Despite this, “the F-35 program expects a large number of aircraft in 2022,” the GAO said at the time.

“The most aircraft the contractors delivered in one year was 134, which they achieved in 2019, before many of the supply chain challenges were in place,” it added.

Pictured: US Air Force Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning stealth fighter flies over San Francisco Bay in San Francisco, California, October 13, 2019

Pictured: US Air Force Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning stealth fighter flies over San Francisco Bay in San Francisco, California, October 13, 2019

At one point, the program planned to deliver 167 F-35s by 2022, “which is more than the contractors have ever delivered and 47 more aircraft and 39% more than it delivered in 2020,” the watchdog said in the statement. report .

This month, the Pentagon awarded Lockheed Martin annual contracts worth up to $6.6 billion to support the operations and maintenance of the global F-35 fleet, the F-35 Joint Program Office announced Sept. 13. .

The new aircraft maintenance contract is for fiscal year 2021, with options for the years 2022 and 2023, and aims to reduce maintenance costs, the office said.

Pictured: Lockheed Martin CEO Jim Taiclet.  The company is by far the largest US government contractor

Pictured: Lockheed Martin CEO Jim Taiclet. The company is by far the largest US government contractor

Separately, Lockheed said the contract would include support maintenance of base and depot maintenance, pilot and maintenance training, while also covering supply chain management for repair and replenishment of parts.

“These contracts represent more than a 30% reduction in cost per hour of flight over the 2020 annual contract, and illustrate the trusted partnership and commitment we share to reduce maintenance costs and increase availability of this unparalleled 5th-century weapon system.” generation,” Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin vice president, said.

In the list of the top 100 US Federal Government ContractorsReleased in 2020, Lockheed Martin was by far the most awarded company, at more than double the required dollar amount than the second-ranked company.

The company committed $76 billion dollars in 2020, representing nearly 13.5% of the total amount owed by the U.S. federal government. In 2019, the US government was responsible for nearly 70 percent of the company’s turnover.

In terms of aircraft, in addition to the F-35 jet, the company supplies C-130 Hercules, F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-22 Raptor to the Pentagon.

It also supplies missiles, including the Hellfire missile, as well as helicopters such as the Black Hawk and Seahawk helicopters, and space weapons.

It is unclear whether other weapons systems or military hardware supplied by Lockheed Martin will experience delays due to supply chain issues.

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