F-35 deliveries halted after Texas mishap

TEHRAN, Dec. 31 (MNA) – Lockheed Martin on Friday announced it halted acceptance flights and deliveries of new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters amid an investigation into the cause of an F-35B mishap on a Texas runway this month.

The halt means Lockheed delivered fewer F-35s than the 148 contractually required in 2022, Defense News website reported.

“We were on track to meet our delivery commitment” before the F-35B mishap on Dec. 15, Lockheed spokeswoman Laura Siebert told Defense News. “However, given the delivery pause, we delivered 141 aircraft” this year.

The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin also announced Friday they finalized a contract worth up to $30 billion to deliver up to 398 F-35s for US and international customers over the program’s next three lots, from lots 15 through 17. However, the contract only guarantees lots 15 and 16, with an option for lot 17.

The contract will also include the first F-35s for Belgium, Finland and Poland, Lockheed said in a release.

Siebert said Lockheed halted acceptance flights after the Dec. 15 mishap “out of an abundance of caution.” And because those flights must happen before the delivery of newly built F-35s, it had the effect of halting deliveries as well.

Lockheed has since continued to build new F-35s at Air Force Plant 4 in Fort Worth, Texas, the main facility for building the fifth-generation fighters. But through the latter half of December, those newly completed F-35s stayed on the ground.

Siebert said nine new F-35s are now awaiting acceptance flights and deliveries.

Video of the Dec. 15 mishap, which went viral on social media, showed the F-35B hovering not far above the ground before descending, bouncing once and tipping forward. Its nose and wing touch the ground, and it starts to spin around. The pilot safely ejected.


News Code 195575


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