Civilian and military officials said they are pleased with the progress of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. Air Force and Lockheed Martin executives briefed reporters Tuesday at the Paris Air Show.
Air Force Major General C.D. Moore, deputy director of the F-35 program office, admitted the military was "challenged" a year ago with the short takeoffs and vertical landings (STOVL) version of the jet, but said this year they have "high confidence that we'll get to our trials this fall."
"Last year we were challenged with out of the gate technologies," he said. "We've matured much faster than we were expecting."
The STOVL BF-1 test aircraft performed the 100th vertical landing for the test program on May 12. For 2011, 106 vertical landings have been performed. During the month of May, all three variants of the F-35 flew a combined total of 94 System Development and Demonstration (SDD) flights, the most achieved in a single month in program history, according to Lockheed Martin. The U.S. Air Force accepted into its fleet, the second of a planned 1,763 production-model F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters when AF-6 was delivered to EAFB on May 13.