Lockheed Martin Corp. reported its 2020 deliveries of F-35 aircraft to the U.S. Dept. of Defense totaled 123 jets, 8% less than its target number of 141 aircraft. The defense contractor cited the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its supply chain for slower construction and fewer completed aircraft.
Lockheed is the lead contractor for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, the largest U.S. defense program. The F-35 is a series of three different, single-engine aircraft with Stealth capability and designed for ground attack and combat. It's deployed by the U.S Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Navy, and the defense forces of multiple allied nations.
In 2019, Lockheed delivered 134 aircraft of different types, three above the delivery goal for the year. More than 500 of F-35s have been completed and delivered since production began in 2006.
In May of this year Lockheed Martin Corp. reported it was slowing the production rate for F-35s to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on its supply chain. New work schedules were implemented, arranging about 2,500 workers into three groups, according to their specialized skills, rotating so that each group worked a two-week shift followed by one week off.
Lockheed said the adjusted schedule would allow its production line to meet a slower workflow resulting from supplier delays and establish "a work rhythm" that keeps specialized skills available when needed.
Delivery schedules to the U.S. and allied defense forces were adjusted too, and a company official projected in May that the 2020 targeted production total of 141 F-35 aircraft would likely be reduced by 18-24 jets.