Keeping track of the F-35 programme is not easy. There is nothing small or seemingly simple about it. There are at least 11 governments actively involved in the programme, three variants in development, nine aircraft currently in flight test, and a supply chain transitioning to achieve an orderly ramp up from delivering about one aircraft per month today to one every day by 2016.

So, sometimes, big things fall between the cracks.

By many measures, this was a good week for the F-35 programme. Key supplier Northrop Grumman says it can now build 24 centre fuselages per year, which actually outpaces the current flow of orders.

Another good sign came from the Middle East, with the Israeli government confirming a long-discussed order for 20 F-35As. That comes one month after the Canadian government publicly committed to buy 65, sparking no small political controversy in Ottawa.

Alas, troubling new details also emerged about Lockheed Martin's final assembly line in Fort Worth, Texas.

One of the primary causes of F-35 production delays remains unresolved despite reports last year that Lockheed had planned to eliminate the problem by now.

The F-35 programme still faces a huge ramp-up to full-scale production, with annual orders expected to double in the next two years. Yet, final assembly remains a crack in the F-35 system.


Source: Flight International