Lockheed resumes F-35 jet deliveries

The US is again receiving Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jets after a production error was detected.The US Department of Defense has resumed accepting F-35 jets from Lockheed Martin after agreement was reached on covering the costs to fix a production error, the Pentagon says.
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Terms of the agreement were not disclosed but people familiar with the situation have previously told Reuters the cost of the fix was $US119 million.

The Pentagon stopped accepting the jets on March 29, the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program office told Reuters in a statement on Monday. The dispute was over responsibility for paying to fix corrosion related to an error discovered in the second half of 2017.

Foreign customers, including and Norway, were also affected and had their jets caught up in the acceptance pause.

The Pentagon says the US military, US allies that own F-35s and Lockheed Martin are now making the necessary repairs to all aircraft.

The majority of aircraft will be repaired within two years, the statement said.

Lockheed shares added to gains after the news and closed up 2 per cent at $US317.71.

Last year, the Pentagon stopped accepting F-35s for 30 days after discovering corrosion where panels were fastened to the airframe, an issue that affected more than 200 of the stealth jets.

During routine maintenance at Hill Air Force Base in Utah last year, the Air Force detected “corrosion exceeding technical limits” where the carbon fibre exterior panel is fastened to the aluminium airframe.

Once a fix had been devised, the deliveries resumed and Lockheed hit its target aircraft delivery numbers for 2017.

A lack of protective coating at the fastening point that would have prevented corrosion was identified as the primary problem, the Pentagon said at the time.

The fastening issue on the F-35 fleet did not affect flights, nor was it a safety concern, the Pentagon said last year.

On Monday, Lockheed said an agreement had been reached with the Pentagon, adding that it expected to hit its F-35 delivery target of 91 aircraft for 2018.