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.
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.