Lockheed Seeking Out all F-16 Partners for JSF

F-35 orders for both Israel and Singapore—now security cooperation partners on the Joint Strike Fighter program—won’t kick in for a few more years, said Lockheed Martin F-35 program manager Dan Crowley. Israel, for example, has requested 25 airframes (with an option for more) and would likely buy in 2012 with delivery in 2014, he told reporters Thursday at AFA’s Orlando symposium. Singapore would likely get airframes two years behind Israel, he added. Asked about other potential partners, Crowley said Japan has expressed interest in the program but is “farther out” on any decision and has a bit more of a “deliberate process” in coming to a firm commitment on the F-35. (The Asian ally has made no secret of its desire to purchase the F-22.) Spain is in “early discussions” about signing on with the program as well, he noted, and Lockheed wants to look at all of the partner nations that participated in the F-16 program as potential JSF customers. Asked about capacity of the production line to handle more buys, Crowley said there is room currently built in but that countries like Israel would likely get later low rate production airframes (in lot five, in Israel’s case). Australia is also considering increasing its buy as is Canada, partially funding it through that country’s economic stimulus legislation.