And now, we have a working F-35. Defensetech reports: "A new chapter in the history of U.S. Air Force fighters began
yesterday when the service’s fist production model F-35 Joint Strike
Fighter took to the skies at Lockheed’s Fort Worth, TX., facility for
the very first time. Yes, the program’s had its troubles and the
Marines’ B-model is nowhere near ready for production but this marks the
beginning of the program becoming an operational reality. This flight
paves the way for Air Force instructor pilots to start flying the jets
at Eglin Air Force Base, in Florida starting this May. This means,
believe or not, we’re finally going to see operational F-35s. Still,
it’s gonna be a while. The IOC date for the Air Force remains 2016." Luckily, it can now be deployed tomorrow... if need be.
And the official Lockheed Press Release:
The first production model of the Lockheed Martin F-35
Lightning II made its inaugural flight today in preparation for delivery
to the U.S. Air Force this spring. The jet will head to Edwards Air
Force Base, Calif., to support developmental testing shortly after the
Air Force takes delivery.
“The aircraft was rock-solid from takeoff to landing, and
successfully completed all the tests we put it through during the
flight,” said Lockheed Martin Test Pilot Bill Gigliotti. “The Air Force
is getting a great jet that represents a huge leap in capability, and
we’re looking forward to getting it into the hands of the service pilots
in just a few more weeks.”
During the flight, the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35A
variant, known as AF-6, underwent basic flight maneuvering and engine
tests. Test Pilot Gigliotti took off from Naval Air Station Fort Worth
Joint Reserve Base at 3:05 p.m. CST and landed at 4:05 p.m. The jet will
continue flight tests in Fort Worth for about a month before it is
accepted by the Air Force.
The F-35A CTOL variant – designed to meet U.S. Air Force requirements
– is also the primary export version of the Lightning II. The air
forces of Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark,
Norway and Israel will employ the F-35A.
Deliveries of the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variant to the
U.S. Marine Corps also begin this year, while deliveries of the F-35C
carrier variant to the U.S. Navy start in 2012. Seventeen F-35s have
entered testing since December 2006, and have logged more than 650
flights and numerous ground tests.
The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th generation fighter, combining advanced
stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information,
network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Lockheed Martin is
developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop
Grumman and BAE Systems.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security
company that employs about 132,000 people worldwide and is principally
engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration
and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.
The Corporation’s 2010 sales from continuing operations were $45.8