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Pentagon Finally Approves F-35 for Full Rate Production After 5-Year Delay

March 14, 2024

Valerie Insinna

Breaking Defense

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Rey White launches an F-35B Lightning II from the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), Sept. 22, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Francisco J. Diaz Jr./Released)

By Valerie Insinna, March 12, 2024 / Breaking Defense

WASHINGTON —  The Pentagon has finally approved the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for full rate production, five years later than originally anticipated.

Defense Department acquisition chief Bill LaPlante signed off on the so-called “milestone C” decision earlier today, a crucial moment signifying the department’s confidence in the performance of the aircraft and maturity of Lockheed Martin’s production system — though the plane has already been in service in the US and with friendly foreign nations for years.

“This is a major achievement for the F-35 Program,” LaPlante said, according to a Pentagon news release. “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.”

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