Military Aviation

700th production F-35 delivered, Lightning II Production Set at 156 Per Year Until Completion

Lockheed Martin is scheduled to deliver 133-139 F-35 Lightning II aircraft this year, 151-153 aircraft in 2022 and anticipates delivering 156 aircraft beginning in 2023 and for the foreseeable future.

Lockheed Martin and the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) recently delivered the 700th production F-35. According to the company news release, with more than 700 F-35s now delivered to US and international operators, the impact of the global fleet is far reaching – significantly enhancing the allied joint force. As the F-35 fleet grows, so too does the alliance-based force needed to deter or defeat near-peer competitors.

As Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall noted last week, “we need to move toward things that are more relevant to the fights we have to deter and, if necessary, win.” The F-35 is both the cornerstone of the fleet and a strategic deterrent.

With the commitment of 14 nations and counting, the US and its allies are powering partnerships, security and economic growth through the F-35 program. By leveraging collective investments and economies of scale, the global F-35 team lowers costs across the program.

“The F-35 remains a premier air system of choice for three of the armed forces, seven international partners and six foreign military sales customers. It routinely demonstrates high-end capabilities at the hands of our joint and international warfighters, and it’s performing in combat operations from land and sea,” said Pentagon press secretary John F. Kirby.

Moreover on Sep. 27. 2021 the F-35 JPO and the Lockheed Martin have also agreed on an F-35 production rebaseline that ensures predictability and stability in the production process while recovering the aircraft shortfall realized over the last year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With this agreement, Lockheed Martin is scheduled to deliver 133-139 aircraft this year, 151-153 aircraft in 2022 and anticipates delivering 156 aircraft beginning in 2023 and for the foreseeable future.

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-35B Lighning II VMFA-121 Green Knights, VK00, 169164 / 2015

As noted by Air Force Magazine, the company did not say how many of each variant will be delivered.

The US Air Force (USAF) has signaled that it will buy about five fewer F-35s per year over the next few years, preferring to wait for the Block 4 jets as they start coming off the production line in fiscal 2023.

The USAF currently fields about 300 of its planned 1,763 F-35As. If it continued to buy the jets at a rate of 48 per year, it would complete its purchases of the fighter in the early 2050s.

Today, F-35s are operating from 21 bases around the globe. More than 1,460 pilots and 11,025 maintainers have been trained and the F-35 fleet has surpassed 430,000 cumulative flight hours.

Senior US defense leaders have reiterated their strong support for the F-35, which USAF Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. calls the “cornerstone” of the service’s fighter fleet. According to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, the F-35 is a “game-changing tactical air warfare capability.”

The USAF is the largest F-35 Lightning II operator. The F-35 is the most advanced fighter in production today and its mission capable rates are above 70% and even higher for deployed units.

The US Marine Corps (USMC) operates F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing aircraft and plans to purchase 353 F-35Bs and 67 F-35C carrier variant aircraft. Together with the Marines, the US Navy is bringing 5th Generation capability to the sea with plans to procure 260 F-35C aircraft.

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Photo credit: R. Nial Bradshaw/U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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