The key performance indicators to watch now are the number of aircraft rolling off the assembly lines and the growing number of combat-ready squadrons America and its allies are able to deploy.

When it comes to measuring the progress of the F-35 program, those are the key and meaningful metrics that matter.

General William R. Looney III, USAF (Ret.) was the 28th Commander of the Air Education and Training Command, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. He is a retired combat and command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours. He is currently a consultant for a number of defense companies, including Lockheed Martin.