Lockheed Martin has delivered the 500th F-35 fighter, with the fleet also surpassing the 250,000 flight hour mark.

The 500th example delivered is an F-35A that will serve with the Vermont Air National Guard, says Lockheed. An image of the jet shows it bears the registration number AF5343. 


Source: Lockheed Martin

The 500th F-35 delivered will go to the Vermont Air National Guard.

Of the 500 aircraft delivered so far, 354 are F-35As, 108 are F-35Bs with short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) capability, and 38 are F-35Cs for US Navy carrier operations.

The 250,000hr mark includes aircraft used by the USA and international customers for testing, training, and operations.

“These milestones are a testament to the talent and dedication of the joint government, military and industry teams,” said Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin, Vice President and General Manager of the F-35 programme.

“The F-35 is delivering an unprecedented 5th Generation combat capability to the warfighter at the cost of a 4th Generation legacy aircraft.”

Though the programme is hitting its stride it still suffers from issues. In January, the Department of Defense’s Office of the Director of Operational Test & Evaluation released a report to congress stating that the F-35 has 873 deficiencies.

“Although the programme is working to fix deficiencies, new discoveries are still being made, resulting in only a minor decrease in the overall number of deficiencies,” said the report.

The F-35’s problems include 13 Category 1 deficiencies. Such problems “may cause death or severe injury; may cause loss or major damage to a weapon system; critically restricts the combat readiness capabilities of the using organisation; or results in a production line stoppage,” according to the US Air Force’s (USAF) definition.

The F-35’s deficiencies are compounded by maintenance problems which hobbled the aircraft’s mission capable rate below the DoD’s goal of 80%. The mission capable rate is the percentage of aircraft capable of performing at least one mission, excluding aircraft in depot maintenance or undergoing major repairs.