Lockheed Martin has paused the production of F-35A Lightning II stealth fighter aircraft at the final assembly and checkout (FACO) facility in Nagoya, Japan over coronavirus outbreak, according to a Pentagon official.
“I believe they have decided to shut down for a week,” said Ellen Lord, the defense undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment. “Right now, it doesn’t look like it is affecting deliveries” of the jet, she added.
Japan’s F-35A jets are being assembled by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) in Japan, under contract with Lockheed Martin, at its Komaki Minami FACO facility near Nagoya.
Japan selected the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant as the next generation fighter of choice for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) in December 2011, following the F-X competitive bid process. The country initially ordered 42 F-35As. In December 2018, the Ministry of Defense announced its decision to increase its procurement of F-35s from 42 to 147 and stated the aircraft will be a mix of 105 F-35As and 42 F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant.
Japan is one of four current U.S. Foreign Military Sales F-35 customers to date, including Israel, the Republic of Korea and Belgium.