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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

F-35 Lightning II Achieves 10,000 Flight Hours

By Woodrow Bellamy III

Lockheed Martin on Wednesday said its F-35 Lighting II flight testing program, the largest military aircraft program in the world, surpassed 10,000 flight hours in September, nearly double the amount of flight hours amassed by the program over the past six years.

(The U.S. Navy's first 5th generation F-35C production aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Photo, courtesy of Todd R. McQueen, Lockheed Martin.)

Although mired by cost overruns and program delays in recent years, Lockheed appears to have its fifth generation fighter jet back on track. The milestone was achieved by operational production aircraft currently operating at Elgin Air Force Base, Fla., and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. All three variants of the aircraft, including the F-35A Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL), the F-35B Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing (STOVL), and the F-35C Carrier Variant (CV) participated in the program milestone, Lockheed said.

A total of 67 pilots are currently qualified to fly one or more of the F-35 variants, and the U.S. Air Force is on track to complete half of the overall flight testing required for its F-35 program by the end of the year, according to comments made by Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan at the recent Air Force Association conference.

Related: Aviation Today's Checklist 

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