11:10 GMT11 August 2020
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    New troubles face the problem-plagued Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter-bomber as manufacturing facilities will not be able to keep up with projected demand and promised production headlines, Defense News reported on Friday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Lieutenant Colonel Chris Bogdan, head of the F-35 Joint Procurement Office (JPO), has expressed concern that the F-35 manufacturing base will not be able to keep up with its requirement to produce at least 120 of the aircraft per year in 2017, 2018 and 2019 for the US Army, Navy and Air Force, the report stated.

    "[In] tripling production of the next-generation fighter jet, F-35 program leaders are bracing for an uphill climb," the report added.

    In 2016, Lockheed Martin is scheduled to hand more than 43 of the aircraft to the three armed service branches.

    "Acquisition rule of thumb says we probably, year-to-year, don't want to do more than about 50 percent what you did the year before," Bogdan told the ComDef conference on September 9, Defense News said.

    "If you do the math and you are going to triple in three years, you are not on a 50-percent-per-year slope," Bogdan warned. "That gives me some pause."

    Already, 126 of the problem-plagued F-35s are operating around the world, and Italy has received its first aircraft with Norway due to be next to receive one, the report noted.

    "[W]e have to create a global sustainment enterprise that can sustain an airplane no matter where it is, no matter which partner has, it no matter what [Foreign Military Sales] customer has it, in a way that's effective for the warfighter," Defense News quoted Bogdan as saying.

    "So when we have those 493 airplanes out in the field in 2019, guess how many will be in what I consider to be the right configuration? Not one," Bogdan said.

    "Every airplane coming off the line now and coming off in the next two and a half years, plus all the airplanes we've built already, will need some form of modification to get them up to the full capability that we promised the war fighter," he warned.

    The F-35 program has previously suffered from massive schedule delays and cost overruns, the report recalled.

    There have also been specific major technical issues with its engine, helmet, tail hook and more, Bogdan acknowledged.


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