The Department of Defense has indefinitely postponed a final determination to let the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter aircraft move into the full production phase due to technical and pandemic challenges that have affected combat simulation test preparations, Bloomberg reported Thursday.
Bloomberg quoted Jessica Maxwell, a spokeswoman for DOD acquisition chief Ellen Lord, as saying the rate of low-rate initial production efforts will continue as planned and that President-elect Joe Biden's transition team could receive a briefing on the program's status at an acquisition-related meeting this week.
Maxwell added that a new schedule for the crucial simulated test will depend on the findings of an independent technical review.
Laura Seal, a spokeswoman for the DOD's F-35 program office, told the publication that the office currently analyzes test requirements and expects the department to hand down a Milestone C decision by the end of February.
Lockheed delivered 74 F-35s to U.S. service branches, 31 to international partner nations and another 18 to foreign military sales customers during 2020.