The US Air Force has accepted the first production F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, with the signing of formal acceptance documents for the jet on May 5.
The F-35, known as ‘AF-7’, flew to Edwards Air Force Base, California the following day, and will begin its extensive flight testing program.
“This first aircraft is the beginning of the modernisation of US Air Force, Marine and Naval airpower and for our coalition partners around the world,” Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager, Larry Lawson, said.
“Today we begin to fulfil the vision of our government and international customers.”
Lockheed Martin says that the F-35 development fleet has now completed over 865 flights since testing began in late 2006, with eight more production aircraft currently being prepared for delivery.
The F-35A is now expected to achieve IOC (initial operating capability) with the USAF in 2017 or 2018.