Lockheed Martin Details 2024 F-35 Delivery Plans

F-35 Lightning II. Image – Lockheed Martin/Mikaela Maschmeier

During its earnings call for the fourth quarter of 2023, Lockheed Martin detailed its 2023 financial results and its plans for deliveries of its F-35 fighter aircraft in 2024.  The manufacturer delivered 98 F-35 aircraft in 2023.  It had originally planned to deliver 147-153 F-35s during the year, but reduced this target in July 2023 to 100-120 aircraft, and then further reduced it in September 2023 to 97 aircraft.  Lockheed Martin had delivered 141 F-35s in 2022.

The reduction in deliveries in 2023 resulted from a delay in certification of the Technology Refresh 3 (TR-3) upgrades that are needed to power the capabilities of the new Block 4 configuration of the F-35.  TR-3 upgrades include a new integrated core processor with greater computing power, a panoramic cockpit display, and an enhanced memory unit.

Originally planned to occur in 2023, the initial delivery of a TR-3 equipped F-35 is now targeted for in the April-June 2024 timeframe.  During the earnings call, however, Lockheed Martin management indicated that the delivery could slip further, into the July-September 2024 period.

The 98 aircraft delivered in 2023 were built in the older TR-2 configuration.  Lockheed Martin revealed during the earnings call that it intends to deliver a total of 75-110 F-35s in 2024.  Approximately 90 percent of the aircraft to be delivered in 2024 are to be in the TR-3 configuration.  A small number of TR-2 configured F-35s are slated for delivery in the first half of the year.

Despite the cutback in deliveries, Lockheed Martin is producing the F-35 at a rate of approximately 156 aircraft per year, and placing undelivered aircraft into storage pending availability of the TR-3 updates.  The company indicated that as many as 100-120 undelivered F-35s could be in storage at the end of 2024.

According to the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO), a total of 52 TR-3 configured F-35s had been contracted for delivery in 2023.  The JPO said that 21 of these aircraft had completed production (and not been delivered) as of January 2024.

About Raymond Jaworowski

Raymond Jaworowski currently co-authors three of Forecast International's best-selling products: Civil Aircraft Forecast, Military Aircraft Forecast, and Rotorcraft Forecast. As a contributor to Aviation Week & Space Technology's Aerospace Source Book, he has authored Aircraft Outlooks, and provided input for the publication's Aircraft Specifications tables. Raymond has represented Forecast International at numerous conferences and trade shows, often as a featured speaker. He is a member of the American Helicopter Society. Prior to joining Forecast International, he worked at Industry News Service and, earlier, interned at the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

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