Marines Take Delivery of F-35B STOVL

By Tish Drake | January 12, 2012
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The first two Lockheed Martin production model F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft were delivered to the U.S. Marine Corps on Wednesday, the company announced. The two jets are now assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing’s Marine Fighter/Attack Training Squadron 501 residing with the host 33d Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida.

The aircraft, known as BF-6 and BF-8, flew separately arriving at 3:13 p.m. and 4:39 p.m. CST, respectively, after their approximate 90 minute ferry flights from Fort Worth, Texas. U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Joseph Bachmann piloted BF-6 while U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Matt Taylor flew BF-8. Both fighters will be used for pilot and maintainer training at the new F-35 Integrated Training Center.

“Today marks the beginning of a new era of advanced capabilities for the U.S. Marine Corps,” said Larry Lawson, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program executive vice president and general manager. “The F-35B’s versatility, as demonstrated onboard the USS WASP last fall, will revolutionize our nation’s expeditionary combat power in all threat environments by allowing operations from major bases, damaged airstrips, remote locations and a wide range of air-capable ships. This aircraft will give our warfighters the ability to accomplish their mission, wherever and whenever duty calls.”

In October, F-35Bs conducted their first set of ship trials, known as Developmental Test 1, 20 miles off the coast of Wallops Island, Va. During the 19-day testing period, BF-2 and BF-4 conducted 72 vertical landings and short takeoffs, accomplishing all of its test milestones during the mission. For the year, F-35Bs accomplished 333 System Development and Demonstration test flights and 268 vertical landings.

BF-6 and BF-8 are the first two F-35 deliveries to the Department of Defense in 2012 and the seventh and eighth F-35 aircraft delivered to Eglin AFB since July 2011. Previously, six U.S. Air Force F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) jets were delivered to the base. More

In other recent F-35 Joint Strike Fighter news:

— Pratt & Whitney was awarded a $1.12 billion contract from the Department of Defense (DoD) to supply its F135 production engines to power the F-35 Lightning II earlier this month. Pratt & Whitney and the DoD have reached a tentative agreement on key terms for the low rate initial production (LRIP) 5 contract which contains fixed-price and cost-plus incentive fee elements. This LRIP contract includes production engines, spare parts, program management, engineering support for production, sustainment and field support for the F135 engines. More

— Japan announced plans in December to purchase 42 conventional takeoff and landing variants (CTOL) of the F-35s to replace aging jets in its air force fleet. The initial contract will be for four jets in Japan Fiscal Year 2012, which begins April 1, 2012.

— In November, Harris Corp. was awarded a $32.7 million follow-on production contract from Lockheed Martin to supply avionics infrastructure components for the F-35 Lightning II. This Low Rate Initial Production contract brings the total value of the program for Harris to more than $500 million since 2001. Harris is providing Lockheed Martin with the avionics infrastructure components that house the radar and Integrated Core Processor (ICP) electronics on the F-35. These are installed during F-35 assembly operations in Ft. Worth, Texas. Harris also provides power distribution products and fiber-optic network systems that are integrated throughout the aircraft avionics subsystems. More

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