Global defence contractor Lockheed Martin confirmed it will ramp up production and delivery of F-35 aircraft in 2022 following supply-chain disruptions induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company is expected to deliver between 133 and 139 jets this year, increasing to 169 in 2022 and plateauing at 175 thereafter. Lockheed Martin increased its outlook for 2021 sales and profit as it reported a better-than-expected quarterly performance.
The F-35 fighter jet producer increased the midpoint of its full-year revenue outlook slightly to US$68 billion, which is still below Wall Street’s average estimate of US$68.17 billion.
Despite bipartisan concern after US President Joe Biden proposed a flat defence budget for 2022, Lockheed chief financial officer Ken Possenriede said it was in line with the company’s expectations.
“We believe once we get more details, we’ll see that a lot of our programs are in line with what our customers want,” Possenriede said.
Despite calls from progressive Democrats to reduce Pentagon spending, the proposal suggested funding for the Department of Defense on an inflation-adjusted basis at US$715 billion.
Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program includes the delivery of 72 jets to the Royal Australian Air Force.
Last year, the RAAF accepted the 30th F-35A aircraft ordered by the Commonwealth government under the Joint Strike Fighter program.
All 72 aircraft are expected to be fully operational by 2023, with an option to expand the fleet to a maximum of 100 aircraft.
Written by Nastasha Tupas.