Lockheed Martin Corp still expects to deliver the final seven of 36 F-35 fighter jets to the U.S. government from its Fort Worth, Texas facility, before year-end despite a five-day halt in test flights due to bad weather over the past week.
The Fort Worth area was shut down by a crippling ice storm late last week causing delays in flight testing required before Lockheed can turn the new F-35 jets over to the government.
Delivering the 36 jets in 2013 is important for Lockheed which is trying to demonstrate improved performance on a program that is years behind schedule and 70 percent over initial cost projections.
2014 would be another key year for the program, with the Navy's C-model due to carry out sea trials on an aircraft carrier next summer, the first jet to be completed at a new assembly plant in Italy, and the first jet for Australia to be delivered.
Lockheed is building three models of the radar-evading fighter for the U.S. military and eight countries that helped fund its development: Britain, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Norway, Italy, Denmark and the Netherlands. Japan and Israel have also ordered the plane, and South Korea has signaled its plan to buy at least 40 F-35s as well.