F-35 Full Rate Production Finally Approved | Aviation

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File photo of a U.S Air Force F-35A during Exercise Falcon Strike 2022. (Photo: Stefano D’Urso / The Aviationist)

After a 5-year delay, the Pentagon approved the Milestone C / Full Rate Production for the 5th gen fighter.

The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, Dr. William A. LaPlante, approved on March 12, 2024, the Milestone C / Full Rate Production (MSC/FRP) of the F-35 Lightning II. The approval arrived with the signing of an Acquisition Decision Memorandum following a meeting with the Defense Acquisition Board on March 7.

The F-35 achieved this milestone after considering the results from the F-35 Combined Initial Operational Test and Evaluation and Live Fire Test and Evaluation Report, System Development and Demonstration exit criteria, statutory/regulatory documentation compliance, future production strategy, and draft acquisition program baseline details. Proceeding to MSC/FRP requires control of the manufacturing process, acceptable performance and reliability, and the establishment of adequate sustainment and support systems.

“This is a major achievement for the F-35 Program,” LaPlante said. “This decision—backed by my colleagues in the Department—highlights to the Services, F-35 Cooperative Program Partners, and Foreign Military Sales customers that the F-35 is stable and agile, and that all statutory and regulatory requirements have been appropriately addressed. The F-35 Program is the premier system that drives interoperability with our allies and partners while contributing to the integrated deterrence component of our National Defense Strategy.”

Even though Lockheed Martin already produced 1,000 F-35 and delivered over 990, the program was still considered in the initial operational testing phase and Low Rate Initial Production. With this milestone, the Department of Defense says the program is now well positioned to efficiently produce and deliver the aircraft to meet the evolving needs of US services,…

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