Parts In, Airplanes Out

The F-35 strike fighter program office wants Lockheed Martin to achieve the goal of getting an airplane from the first station on the assembly line to delivery in a space of 24 months, said Vice Adm. David Venlet, F-35 program executive officer. He told reporters in a press conference last week that, right now, aircraft are coming off the assembly line after 29 months. The delays have to do with rework and learning curve, both of which are improving. Those figures don’t include long-lead items, which add another 12 months to the process. He showed off a “data room” at the F-35 offices in Crystal City, Va., that displays the status of each individual F-35 and its key components on a four-wall flow chart. There are currently about 31 F-35s in various states of completion on the assembly line. About a half dozen are in final checkout and awaiting ferry to testing locations; the others are in earlier stages of production. Venlet also said the program is on track to a build rate of “the high teens” per month. “I think that is achievable,” he said during the April 21 event.