The F-35 Lightning II and prime contractor Lockheed Martin ended another successful year as the program continued to expand its global footprint and improve its operational capabilities.
In 2021, two new countries – Switzerland and Finland – selected the F-35 for their new fighter aircraft programs.
In addition, Denmark received its first F-35 and the Royal Netherlands Air Force became the ninth nation to declare its fleet of F-35s ready for initial operational capability.
The operational capabilities of the F-35 continued to advance and further demonstrated its value as the most advanced battlespace node of the 21st century. Last year alone, the F-35 successfully participated in a series of flight tests and exercises, including Project Hydra, Northern Edge, Orange Flag, Talisman Saber, and Flight Test-6.
“The F-35 Joint Enterprise Team continues to provide unparalleled combat capability to the 21st century battlespace through the F-35,” said Bridget Lauderdale, vice president and general manager of the F-program. 35. âProviding unprecedented support to the growing fleet, participating in numerous joint field exercises and achieving our delivery goal during a global pandemic is no small feat, while the F-35 has also been chosen by Switzerland. and Finland as the next hunter. “
The operational performance of the F-35 remains solid. Some of the F-35A deployments and exercises have demonstrated mission capability rates of over 80%. As one of the most reliable aircraft in the US combat fleet, 93% of the F-35’s parts perform better than expected.
Over the past year, the F-35s have been part of four base and ship activations and have participated in more than 60 deployments and detachments, including the US Navy’s first deployment of F-35Cs aboard the USS Carl Vinson. During the first deployment of the Royal Navy flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth as part of the UK’s 2021 Carrier Strike Group, the US Marine Corps and Royal Air Force F-35Bs flew close to 1,300 sorties, over 2,200 hours and completed 44 combat missions.
These program achievements are made possible through the use of digital technologies, which were essential to achieve 142 deliveries in 2021. Smart tools, connected machines and augmented realities all contribute to the delivery and sustainment of aircraft.
“Lockheed Martin is investing in digital technology that advances the 5th generation capabilities of the F-35 long after delivery,” added Lauderdale. âWe are embracing digital transformation to enable faster development and continuous deployment of software, using digital models and supercomputers to augment physical test data with simulation-based verification, and automating data processes for save time and glean information that improves sustainability. “
With more than 750 aircraft operating from 30 bases and ships around the world, the F-35 plays a critical role in the integrated deterrence of the United States and our allies. More than 1,585 pilots and 11,545 maintenance personnel are trained, and the F-35 fleet has completed nearly 470,000 cumulative flight hours. Nine countries have F-35s operating from a base on their home soil, 12 services have declared initial operational capability, and six services have used F-35s in combat.