According to statements from the F-35 program manager Lorraine Martin last week, Lockheed intends to deliver the final seven of 36 F-35 Lightning II jets to the U.S. government by the end of 2013. Martin delivered the news during a ceremony at Lockheed's Fort Worth, Texas facility to mark the 100th F-35 to come out of production, an aircraft bound for Luke Air Force Base.
Luke was chosen earlier this year to be the training facility for F-35 pilots, and officials expect training to begin in May 2015.
From the Reuters coverage:
Martin told reporters that 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.
Speaking in Washington, Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh underscored the importance of the F-35 to ensure U.S. air superiority and said current "legacy" fighters would not survive a future fight against stealthy next-generation fighters being developed by Russia and China.
"Operationally, we need the F-35 ... This is not a good time to walk away from the F-35 program in any way, shape or form," he told a Pentagon briefing. He said truncating the F-35 program would raise the cost of the remaining jets.