The first F-35 delivery of 2017 was a milestone, the 200th operational jet, which is now the second delivered for the Japan Air Self Defense Force. The aircraft touched down at Luke AFB, Ariz., on Tuesday, according to a Lockheed Martin release. The jet brings the total number of F-35s at Luke, a training base for US and international pilots to 46. Eventually the base will host 144 strike fighters in six F-35 fighter squadrons. So far, the overall F-35 program has tallied 75,000 flight hours, training more than 380 pilots, the company said. The delivery came as the Pentagon’s weapons tester said the program’s initial operational test and evaluation will further slip a minimum of 16 months.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.