F-35 Production Schedule Shows Staggered International Deliveries
Some international partners in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program could delay signing up for production airplanes until 2013. George Standridge, Lockheed Martin F-35 vice president for business development, said that funding of long-lead items would be required 36 months before first flight, with a larger down-payment due 12 months later. On the latest F-35 production schedule, Canada, Denmark and Norway are not due to take delivery of their first F-35s until 2016. Lockheed Martin officials previously implied that all eight overseas countries would have to commit to production by the end of this year. The point is important in regards to Denmark and Norway, where an enhanced version of the Saab Gripen is being evaluated as an alternative to the F-35. The schedule shows that the first international deliveries would be in 2011 to the UK (two) and the Netherlands (one). The following year, these two countries would each receive one more aircraft. Australia would receive its first four aircraft in 2013, with Italy and Turkey following in 2014. Only during that year can any F-35s leave the U.S., Standridge noted. That’s when the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation phase is slated to be completed.