The U.S. military services today set dates for when the first squadrons of Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) F-35 fighter jets, from the Pentagon's most expensive weapons program, will be combat-ready.
Congress was notified this morning that the initial short-takeoff and vertical-landing model for the Marine Corps will be ready no later than December 2015. The target for the Air Force's version of the jet is December 2016, and the date for the Navy model, designed to take off and land on aircraft carriers, is February 2019.
Congress last year directed the services to establish the dates by June 1. When Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed won the contract from Boeing Co. (BA) in 2001, the original dates for initial combat-readiness were April 2010 for the Marines, June 2011 for the Air Force and April 2012 for the Navy, according to program documents.