Lockheed Martin has re-affirmed the full-rate production goal for the F-35 programme remains 17 aircraft per month, despite a supplier’s statement on 7 October that it is significantly less.
Full rate production volume is factored into the production learning curves that drive Lockheed’s cost reduction targets for the F-35. In the early years of the programme, Lockheed expected to build 20 F-35s per month by 2016, or nearly one per working day.
But programme delays and spending deferrals trimmed Lockheed’s full-rate production target to 17 aircraft monthly by the mid-2020s, compared to a current rate of about three per month.
Lockheed supplier Alcoa, however, issued a press release on 7 October announcing its selection to provide titanium on all F-35s produced over the next nine years.
The statement adds that its selection supports “Lockheed Martin’s full-rate production goal of 13 aircraft a month by the mid-2020s”, Alcoa says.
A rate of 13 per month implies an annual rate of 156 F-35s. That tracks with the international programme’s near-term plan to increase F-35 deliveries about 35 aircraft per year to 150-170 aircraft by 2019, but falls short of Lockheed’s stated goal to reach about 204 F-35 deliveries per year.
Despite the statement by Alcoa, the full rate production target for the programme has not changed, Lockheed says.
“I can’t speak for [Alcoa], but our target remains 17,” the company says.