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Friday, March 6, 2009

Year Of 'Firsts' For F-35 Program

Lockheed Martin said the F-35 Lightning II program this year expects to complete all remaining System Development and Demonstration (SDD) aircraft, deliver the first production F-35s to the armed services and initiate full-scale flight test operations at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.

The company said it has delivered eight of 19 SDD jets, and  is moving aircraft off assembly line at a rate of about one per month.

This year will see a number of “firsts,” including the first flight of the F-35C carrier variant, the first vertical landing of the F-35B STOVL, the stand up of test sites at Edwards AFB and Patuxent River, the first training aircraft delivered to the U.S. Air Force and the first international orders, Lockheed Martin said.

The program will continue to validate F-35 mission systems software and hardware, adding to more than 1,100 hours of flight testing and 115,000 hours of laboratory testing already completed. The initiation of flight testing this summer for the first mission-systems-equipped F-35, designated BF-4, will reinforce technical risk reduction efforts.

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