Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin announced the delivery of its 134th F-35 fighter plane in 2019 on Monday, exceeding its goal of 131 for the year.
Deliveries this year included 81 aircraft for the U.S. military, 30 to international partners and 23 to Foreign Military Sales customers. Ten countries currently have the plane in their air forces.
Over 450 of the aircraft have been built overall, with hundreds more ordered for future production. The United States expects to eventually have over 2,000 of its three F-35 variants, to replace aging planes and outmoded designs.
Sales of the F-35 have been part of a 34.3 percent gain of Lockheed Martin stock on the New York Stock Exchange this year.
The 134 deliveries in 2019 compares to 62 in 2018. The company expects to build 141 F-35s in 2020, with the expectation of peak production in 2023.
"We have met our annual delivery targets three years in a row and continue to increase production rates, improve efficiencies and reduce costs," Gary Ulmer, general manager of the F-35 program, said in a statement. "The F-35 is the most capable fighter jet in the world, and we're now delivering the 5th generation weapon system at a cost equal to or lower than a less capable 4th generation legacy aircraft."
The plane is regarded as the most advanced fighter aircraft in the sky, but the cost of the program has increased over time.
A Defense Department report in August noted that the cost of the F-35 program grew by $25 billion in 2018, and is the "main driver" of a four percent increase in overall military spending.
An agreement between Lockheed and the Defense Department in June 2019 called for the largest procurement yet, of 478 F-35s, with the company estimating that the F-35A will eventually cost less than $80 million per plane.