The Air Force now has more F-35A strike fighters than it does F-22 Raptors, manufacturer Lockheed Martin said. USAF photos/Staff illustration by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.
Lockheed Martin delivered its 196th F-35A Joint Strike Fighter to the Air Force this week, surpassing the total of 195 F-22s—test and production—that it delivered to the service between 1996 and 2011.
The 196th F-35 will be based at Hill AFB, Utah, home of the first operational USAF F-35 squadrons. The first F-35A was delivered to the Air Force in 2006.
More than 395 F-35s have been built, including variants produced for the Marine Corps, Navy, and foreign partners and customers.
The Air Force is sticking to its production goal of 1,763 F-35s to replace the F-117, F-16, and A-10, and the US services collectively plan to buy over 2,600 of the fighters. More than 790 pilots have been trained to fly the strike fighter, which has accumulated a fleet total of over 195,000 flying hours. Counting all variants, the F-35 flies out of 17 bases.
The Air Force plans to buy at least 48 F-35s in fiscal 2020, and Congress may add another 12 airplanes to that total.