The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's Supply Chain

In this relatively short E-Week article, the authors describe how Lockheed Martin has moved -- like Boeing -- to embrace suppliers as key partners in the production of one of the most sophisticated defense platforms to date. Scheduled to start production later this year, the F-35 JSF will be produced at nearly one plane per day. According to the article, Lockheed Martin "will contract out about 60 percent of the 40,000 parts and will use sophisticated supply chain networks to make the process more efficient." This is a marked change for the defense giant. Historically, when the "company won a contract for a new weapons system, it typically would create a whole new production and maintenance operation for that specific system. It would manufacture parts itself that were custom-designed for that system and stockpile replacements for ongoing sale." But Lockheed had to change its old "make" standby strategy to a "buy" one when government cost pressures became more intense. Now, "Rather than custom-build parts for every system, the company relies more on contractors to supply parts that often come right off the shelf or include only minimal customization."

Jason Busch

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