Lt. General Jon Davis, Head of Marine Corps aviation, told Reuters that they might declare a squadron of 10 Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT) F-35 military aircraft ready for combat by July 15 this year. Earlier this week, Lockheed Martin also delivered six F-35B aircraft to the USS Wasp amphibious warship for operational testing.
Through FY2013, the F-35 program has received a total of roughly $83.3 billion of funding in then-year dollars, including roughly $49.0 billion in research and development, about 33.1 billion in procurement, and roughly $1.2 billion in military construction.
The Pentagon plans to spend about $10.6 billion on the F-35 in the fiscal year ending Oct. 1, 2015 a 23 percent increase over the previous year. The money will buy 57 aircraft versus 38 from the prior spending plan. The procurement figure is also higher than the 55 the Pentagon had previously said it was planning to buy this year.
Lockheed has so far made 120 F-35s and has another 100 in various stages of production. According to the company, each plane costs about $108 million, a 57 percent decline from eight years ago. Lockheed expects the price to fall to $85 million by 2019 as production gets more efficient.
In 2014, Lockheed delivered 36 F-35 fighter jets, producing them at an average rate of 3 per month. During the fourth quarter, Lockheed also finalized the lot 8 production (LRIP – low rate initial production) contract with the government for 43 F-35s. Deliveries for this contract will be made in 2015. So, Lockheed’s F-35 production and delivery volume is set to rise in the current year. Thereafter, in 2016 and 2017, F-35 production will significantly ramp up, crossing a run rate of 100 annual deliveries in 2018.
Lockheed’s revenue rose by 9% per year to $12.5 billion, and its profit improved to $904 million in the fourth quarter. This strong fourth quarter enabled Lockheed to grow its 2014 top line, against expectations and the company’s own guidance. Lockheed posted $45.6 billion in total revenue in 2014, up marginally from $45.4 billion in 2013.
The Daily Beast reported last month that incomplete software means F-35 fighters won’t be able to fire their 25mm cannons until 2019 at the earliest, years after the jet goes into operation. Even once the gun is able to fire, the jet isn’t designed to carry much ammunition, making the cannon of limited use. The Pentagon disputed the severity of the reported problems.
SOURCES – Fiscal Times, Bidnessetc, Fas.org, Daily Beast, Forbes