Even though the fifth-generation US stealth fighter F-35 is believed to be the most expensive warplane in history, the aircraft reportedly continues to face a spate of technical troubles that could put the lives of its pilots at risk.
Coronavirus-related problems could disrupt production of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and cause millions of dollars in damages, the company’s chief financial officer (CFO) Ken Possenriede was cited by the US news outlet Defence One as saying on Tuesday.
According to him, international suppliers are now trying to tackle sick workers, stay-at-home orders, and shipping delays which may cost Lockheed Martin a whopping $375 million in projected sales this year.
“Our current expectation is that the next few months will be the peak of disruption as the country and the rest of the world looks to successfully flatten the curve and move forward”, Possenriede said.
The CFO referred to “some production impacts” at the F-35 site, pledging additional analysis in the next few weeks “to determine if any impact and [to] what extent it will be on the programme including deliveries”.
He said that some foreign and domestic suppliers of F-35s have not submitted the relevant invoices required to document their work, adding that “probably most of it is COVID-related”.
At the same time, Possenriede pointed out that the development of new technology for F-35 jets had not been damaged by the coronavirus pandemic.
He was echoed by Lockheed Martin’s chief executive officer Marillyn Hewson who admitted that the company is beginning to “experience some issues in each of our business areas related to the coronavirus”.
Hewson added that it mainly pertains to access to “some locations and delays of supplier deliveries, which have caused us to adjust our full-year sales outlook”.
With the budget for the F-35 programme surpassing $1 trillion, the fifth-generation stealth fighter jet is thought to be the most expensive warplane in history. Even so, the aircraft reportedly continues to face a whole array of technical issues that could put the lives of its pilots at risk.
The US remains the hardest-hit nation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 776,000 confirmed cases and 41,758 deaths, according to the latest estimates by the country’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.