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Lockheed delivers 4 more F-35s as focus turns to production

written by australianaviation.com.au | July 11, 2012

Lockheed Martin says its F-35 test program remains ahead of schedule. (Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin has delivered four F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to the US Air Force and Marine Corps, bringing to nine the total of F-35s delivered so far this year.

The aircraft, delivered since June 29, were the first jets manufactured as part of Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 3. They will begin ferrying to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida in the coming days, where they will be used for pilot and maintainer training at the base’s F-35 Integrated Training Center.

The new jets include three F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variants destined for the Air Force and one F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant for the Marine Corps. The four additions will bring the F-35 fleet at Eglin to 16. The US Department of Defense also has eight test aircraft at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland and six test aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

“To date, the F-35 program has focused on system development and flight testing while most recently transitioning to low rate initial production,” said Orlando Carvalho, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and general manager, F-35 program. “We’ve crossed a critical threshold as we begin delivering our LRIP 3 aircraft.  We’re increasingly becoming more operationally focused. These deliveries illustrate the program’s natural progression and maturation that is taking place on a daily basis.”

Lockheed also released an update on the F-35 test program, saying the fighter accumulated more test point in June than any month to date. As of June 30, F-35s had flown 595 test flights for the year, above a goal of 445, Lockheed said.

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