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2021 Was a Huge Year for U.S. F-35. 2022 Could Be Even Bigger

By National Interest

It’s been a bang-up year for the F-35 joint strike fighter program. Promotional material from Lockheed Martin, one of the top companies behind the stealth jet, explains that they have delivered about 750 jets to date.

Here, There, and Everywhere

The United States is naturally the number one operator of F-35s worldwide, but other countries are increasingly opting for the stealth fighter and buying into the program. In addition to Finland, Switzerland also purchased F-35s in 2021.

Canada is also mulling an F-35 acquisition decision to replace their aging F/A-18 derivatives, the CF-18 Hornets. The odds for the F-35 in Canada look good, given the country’s proximity to the United States, their close historical ties, and the stealth capabilities the F-35 can offer. Lastly, an as-of-yet unnamed foreign customer ordered an F-35 variant in late December.

Out With the Old, in With the New

In a sign of just how far along the world’s most prolific fifth-generation fighter program is, the Department of the Navy recently put out a solicitation to put three of their oldest F-35s into long-term storage.

“With the conclusion of the Systems Development and Design (SDD) portion of the F-35 flight test program, three of NAS Patuxent River F-35 Integrated Test Force (ITF) flight science aircraft (x1 F-35C and x2 F-35B) are no longer required to gather flight test data,” the Navy notice details.

“Therefore, it has been determined at the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) that these aircraft will be preserved via a preservation/protection system (i.e. shrink wrap) and transported elsewhere for other uses at a later date.”

National Interest

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