America’s F-35 stealth aircraft factory in Japan shuttered operations for a week due to new concerns over the Covid-19 outbreak, reported Defense News.
The closure of the F-35 stealth factory comes as Covid-19 infections in Japan rose above 1,000 on Wednesday, most of which are from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship.
This prompted the closure of the F-35 factory in Japan, Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters on Wednesday. She said the F-35’s global supply chain has yet to be impacted by the virus.
“In Japan, I believe they shut down the Final Assembly and Check-Out (FACO) for a week,” Lord said.
While much of the F-35 is produced at Lockheed Martin’s factory in Ft. Worth, Texas, Japan has managed to become integrated into the production of the fifth-generation jet.
Still, “right now, it doesn’t look like it is affecting deliveries” of the F-35, Lord said. “Right now, we have not seen any effects.”
With the virus spreading worldwide, South Korea, Italy, Iran, and other countries in Europe, have been hard hit by the virus. Another F-35 factory in Italy has taken precautions to minimize virus spreading, she added.
She said at the F-35 plant in Italy, “Lockheed has directed their employees to work from home.”
Lord said the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security has been monitoring the global supply chain of the F-35 and potential virus impacts, including “scenario planning” of supply chain disruptions.
Defense News notes the F-35 program is “the most globally integrated supply chain in military equipment history.”
“Combating the Coronavirus remains a top priority for the department, and Secretary Esper meets weekly with senior leaders to discuss how we’re taking care of our men and women in uniform around the world,” said DoD spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Andrews. “The department remains fully engaged with the defense industrial base on all programs, including the F-35, and stands ready to respond when needed.”