Lockheed Martin delivered this week the 300th F-35 fighter. The aircraft, an F-35A model, was received by the US Air Force at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. The number is expressive, but it still does not reach a tenth of the production planned for the airplane, which goes from 3,000 units ordered by 11 countries.
The manufacturer began deliveries of production aircraft in 2012, though not yet fully operational, as is common in the transition from military aircraft. The F-35 is a complex program that involves three different aircraft.
The US manufacturer’s plan is to reduce the value of the F-35A to $ 80 million in two years. The current value of the F-35 A is $ 96 million. The most expensive variant, and also the most complex, is the model B, valued at $ 122 million.
The F-35 is one of the most advanced military aircraft in history and perhaps the most advanced fighter in the West. The first 300 F-35s include 197 F-35A units, vertical take-off and landing version, 75 F-35B models, vertical takeoff and landing and 28 F-35C, another naval variant with landing and take-off systems with catapults and deceleration cables.
The F-35 weapons system is a key enabler of our National Defense Strategy and is providing our warfighters the combat proven, advanced capabilities they need to meet mission requirements,” said Vice Admiral Mat Winter, program executive officer for the F-35 Joint Program Office.
The F-35A is already in operation in eight countries: Australia, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Israel, Japan, South Korea and the United states. Most of the countries that ordered the plane also participate in the project and some have local production, as is the case of the model manufactured in Japan by Mitsubishi.
The F-35B, developed to operate on smaller aircraft carriers, is already used by three countries: Italy, the United States and the United Kingdom. The F-35C version is only operated by the US Navy.
The next customer of the F-35 will be Turkey, which will receive its first fighter (an F-35A) later this month. The country may be one of the biggest customers of the aircraft, with plans to acquire more than 130 units. Another country participating in the project is Denmark, which is expected to receive its first aircraft later this year.
The more than 3,000 F-35 fighters ordered, most of them from the US (more than 1,700), are scheduled to be delivered by 2070.
Most expensive plane in history, but also one of the most advanced of all time. Stealth technology, supersonic speed, advanced sensors, long range weapons … The list of features of the F-35 makes it not only a (very) expensive plane, but also a war machine capable of performing precision attacks without detected by the enemy.
The first flight of the F-35, a model A, was held on December 15, 2006 and the first units were declared ready for combat from 2016. The plane has had its “fire baptism”: Israel recently confirmed the use of the aircraft in two attacks in the Middle East.