The manufacturer of the F-35 said Friday the program is going swimmingly. In a statement for the press responding to an unfounded report of a significant cost overrun in the multi-billion-dollar stealth fighter project (see above), Lockheed Martin said its efforts are on budget and on track. “The conventional and the short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft are progressing well through their flight test programs,” the company wrote. Lockheed also stated, “The carrier version design and development is moving forward on schedule, and integration and verification of the mission system suite continues in parallel on our cooperative avionics test bed aircraft.” Further, “Production activities are accelerating with all development aircraft and now the first four low-rate initial production aircraft are in assembly,” the company said.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.