Coronavirus pauses work at F-35 jet assembly facility in Japan: Pentagon

F-35 fighter jets give pilots a ‘quantum leap in capability’: Lockheed Martin chief test pilot

Lockheed Martin chief test pilot Alan Norman discusses the Pentagon’s purchase of 478 F-35 fighter jets and the ability of the airframe to adapt to new demands, remaining relevant “for decades to come.”

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Work at the F-35 fighter-jet factory in Japan has paused for a week due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, a U.S. defense official said on  Wednesday.

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F-35 jets are made at a Lockheed Martin factory in Ft. Worth, Texas but allies assemble jets for themselves at two final assembly and check out facilities (FACO) in Japan and Italy.

"In Japan, I believe they shut down the FACO for a week," Ellen Lord, the Pentagon's top weapons buyer, told reporters on the sidelines of a defense conference in Washington.

Still, deliveries were not impacted, Lord said.

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"In Japan, to comply with Japanese Coronavirus directives Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is temporarily closing the Japanese FACO for one week; of note, only Japanese aircraft are produced at this FACO," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews, a Pentagon spokesman said in a statement.

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At the F-35 FACO plant in Italy, "Lockheed has directed their employees to work from home," Lord said.

Pratt and Whitney, which makes the engines for the jets, has told its team in Italy to telework, but "there have been no impacts to the production line," Andrews said in the statement.

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A Lockheed Martin representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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(Reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Steve Orlofsky)

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