First USAF Production F-35 Lightning II Delivered

The U.S. Air Force has accepted into its fleet the first of a planned 1,763 production-model Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters.

The signing of formal acceptance documents for the jet, known as AF-7, took place at Lockheed Martin’s F-35 final assembly plant in Fort Worth, Texas, Thursday, May 5. The jet flew to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on Friday to begin its flight testing program.

“This first aircraft is the beginning of the modernization of U.S. Air Force, Marine and Naval Air power and for our coalition partners around the world,” said Larry Lawson, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager.

“The F-35 family of aircraft will bring an incredible increase in capability that our men and women defending us deserve.”

F-35s have completed more than 865 flights since flight-testing began in late 2006. In addition to AF-7, eight more production-model F-35s have rolled out and are being prepared for delivery.

The F-35 Lightning II is the most advanced multi-role fighter in the world, combining Very Low Observable stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and reduced sustainment costs.

Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least nine other countries.

Source: Air-Attack

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