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Lockheed Martin F-35B being refueled  (Source: Lockheed Martin)
F-35B makes its first supersonic flight

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program has been plagued with cost overruns and missed deadlines. The price tag for the program has ballooned to much more than the DoD originally set aside for the aircraft.

Early this month, the DoD announced that the price tag for the JSF program could ultimately amount to $382 billion.

The aircraft are expected to be offered to participating countries for about $92.4 million each.

June has also been a month of milestones for the F-35 program with the F-35C variant of the JSF making its first flight. The F-35C is the carrier-based version of the JSF.

The F-35 JSF program has reached another milestone with the F-35B short take off and vertical landing version of the JSF breaking the sound barrier for the first time. The milestone puts the F-35B in the supersonic club alongside the F-35C and the F-35A that have already made their maiden supersonic flights.

The F-35B broke the sound barrier reaching Mach 1.07 or 727 miles per hour. The plan according to Lockheed Martin is to increase the supersonic flight speed on subsequent test flights until the aircraft's top speed of Mach 1.6 is reached.

"For the first time in military aviation history, supersonic, radar-evading stealth comes with short takeoff/vertical landing capability," said Bob Price, Lockheed Martin's F-35 U.S. Marine Corps program manager. "The supersonic F-35B can deploy from small ships and austere bases near front-line combat zones, greatly enhancing combat air support with higher sortie-generation rates." The F-35B will enter service for the Marines, the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, and the Italian Air Force and Navy.

All F-35 JSF variants are designed to hold up to 3,000 pounds of munitions internally and to be able to launch all its weapons at maximum supersonic speed.
DefenseNews reports that the test flight took place at the offshore supersonic test track at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.





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