First F-35 accepted by USAF  (Source: Lockheed Martin)
Eight more production fighters are now complete

After hoards of delays, problems, and groundings, Lockheed Martin announced that it finally delivered the very first production F-35 Lightning II aircraft to the USAF. The USAF has accepted the F-35 into its fleet marking the first of a planned 1,763 production aircraft to be delivered.

The formal acceptance documents were signed and the jet will be known in the USAF as AF-7. The signing of the documents took place at the F-35 final assembly plant in Fort Worth, Texas last Thursday. The first production F-35 had its maiden voyage in February in Fort Worth.

The first official flight of the production aircraft after being accepted into the USAF fleet was to fly from Fort Worth to Edwards Air Force base in California. The pilot flying the F-35 was Maj. Scott “Shark” McLaren with the 461st flight Test Squadron. The flight lasted three hours and was conducted with no issues.

“This first aircraft is the beginning of the modernization of U.S. Air Force, Marine and Naval Air power and for our coalition partners around the world,” said Larry Lawson, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager. “The F-35 family of aircraft will bring an incredible increase in capability that our men and women defending us deserve. Today we begin to fulfill the vision of our government and international customers.” 

Lockheed Martin reminds that F-35 aircraft had flown more than 865 flights since flight-testing began in late 2006. Eight more production F-35 fighters have rolled off the assembly line and are ready for delivery. There is no word on when the other eight aircraft will be formally accepted into the USAF fleet.

The F-35 will eventually replace the A-10 and F-16 in the USAF, the F/A-18 for the Navy, and the F/A-18 and AV-B Harrier for the Marine Corps.

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