UPDATE 1-Lockheed meets 2014 target for 36 F-35 deliveries-Pentagon

Mon Dec 22, 2014 6:49pm EST
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WASHINGTON Dec 22 (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp met its target of delivering 36 F-35 fighter jets to the U.S. government in 2014, paving the way for the firm to collect most of the associated performance fees, a spokesman for the Pentagon's F-35 program office said Monday.

The U.S. government on Monday accepted the last of the 36 jets due to be delivered by Lockheed this year, said Joe DellaVedova, spokesman for the F-35 program office.

The company accelerated deliveries in the final months of the year to meet the target despite weeks of delays after flight groundings were imposed following engine failure on an Air Force jet in June.

DellaVedova said Lockheed and the other companies involved in the program had delivered 109 operational aircraft to the United States and partner nations since the program's inception in 2001.

Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan said building and delivering the jets to the U.S. government was a global undertaking that involved thousands of workers and 300,000 individual parts from 45 U.S. states and 10 other countries.

The jet delivered to the U.S. government on Monday was the first F-35 carrier-variant jet built for the U.S. Marine Corps, which plans to buy a total of 80 such jets in coming years.

The 2015 F-35 deliveries included 23 conventional takeoff and landing jets for the U.S. Air Force, the first two jets for the Royal Australian Air Force, four Marine Corps short takeoff and landing jets, and seven carrier-variant jets, including the Marine Corps' first F-35 C-model jet.

Lorraine Martin, Lockheed's F-35 program manager, said 2014 marked the most F-35 deliveries in a single year and showed the program's "growing stability and ability to ramp up production."

Lockheed is building three variants of the jet for the U.S. military. Eight other countries that helped fund its development are Canada, Britain, Australia, Italy, Turkey, Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark. Israel, South Korea and Japan have also placed orders for the new radar-evading jets. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Diane Craft)