Sunday, December 24, 2017

Lockheed hits F-35 delivery target despite production problems

Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) said that it hit its 2017 target to deliver 66 F-35 fighter jets to the U.S. and its allies last week, despite production problems. In September and October, the U.S. Defense Department halted shipments of F-35s for 30 days after a production error allowed corrosion to form around fasteners attaching body panels to the airframe. It was the latest of several production issues that have arisen in the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program. The F-35 is key for Lockheed, accounting for about a quarter of its total revenue.
During the third quarter, sales at Lockheed’s aeronautics business increased 14 percent to $4.7 billion, pulled higher by F-35 sales. The U.S. and its allies are negotiating an annual purchase of a batch of 141 planes. As of Friday, they had more than 265 of the jets already flying.

The company is scheduled to deliver about 90 jets next year and the Bethesda, Maryland-based weapons maker aims to nearly triple annual production to more than 160 jets in 2023. Lockheed shares hit an all-time high of $323.38 on Friday.