WASHINGTON, Oct 18 (Reuters) - The Pentagon's decision to move into a full-rate production contract for the F-35 jet, made by Lockheed Martin, could be delayed until 2021 because of issues integrating the jet with its testing and training simulators, an official said on Friday.
Full-rate production contracts are more lucrative for defense companies than low rate production contracts, suggesting larger payments for F-35 deliveries to Lockheed from the U.S. government and its allies could be delayed by as much as a year.
Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord told reporters she had signed off on a report that indicated the final decision on full-rate production could be delayed up to 13 months.
A decision on full-rate production had been expected this December.
"We are not making as quick progress on the joint simulation environment, integrating the F-35 into it," Lord said.
The Joint Simulation Environment is a government-owned modeling and simulation facility that can be used for testing aircraft and flight systems as a supplement to open-air testing.
Lockheed Martin did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Reporting by Mike Stone Editing by Tom Brown)