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WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin delivered 45 F-35 fighter jets to US and international armed forces in 2015, meeting the production goal for the year, the joint program office announced Monday.

“Delivering the most F-35s in program history is a clear demonstration of our growing maturity and stability,” said Lorraine Martin, Lockheed Martin F-35 program manager, according to a statement. “Congratulations to the entire government and industry team for their work to deliver 45 aircraft.”

The 45 joint strike fighters include 26 F-35As for the US Air Force, two for the Royal Norwegian Air Force and one for the Italian Air Force plus eight F-35Bs for the US Marine Corps and eight F-35Cs for the US Navy.

Lockheed's total F-35 production this year marks a 25 percent increase from 2014, when the company delivered 36 aircraft, according to JPO spokesman Joe DellaVedova.

Lockheed is preparing to ramp up production to more than 120 aircraft each year just for the Pentagon, Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, head of the JPO, said in September.

This is only the beginning of the global ramp up: By the end of 2019, the JPO will have 493 operational jets around the globe, compared with just 126 today. In the next four years, the JPO will stand up 17 new operating locations, more than half of them abroad.

To date, Lockheed has delivered 154 operational aircraft to the Defense Department and partner nations, according to the statement.

“Meeting aircraft production goals is a critical stepping stone in demonstrating the program is ready for the expected significant production ramp up,” said Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, F-35 Program Executive Officer. “It took thousands of people around the world to achieve this milestone and they should all be proud of what they accomplished.”

Email: lseligman@defensenews.com

Twitter: @LaraSeligman

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