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Assembling The 100th F-35 Lightning II..!

F-35 Production Facility…

Assembly of the 100th Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is well underway at the aircraft production facility here. The technicians are in the final phase of building the wings that will be installed on the 100th aircraft known as AF-41. AF-41, a conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, is one of 88 F-35s in various stages of completion on Lockheed Martin production lines Fort Worth and Marietta, Ga., and supplier locations across the world. The jet will be delivered to the U.S. Air Force and is slated for pilot training at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.

F-35 Refueling 1

F-35 Lightning II News…

An F-35C Lightning II, on a nighttime test flight, cuts through the skies over the Atlantic Test Ranges Jan. 23. Marine Corps test pilot Maj. C. R. Clift flew CF-5 for almost an hour, completing evaluation of the aircraft’s landing and taxi lights. (Lockheed Martin photo by Layne Laughter).

A second Lockheed Martin F-35 Fighter, known as AF-1, joined the 500 flight hour club recently during its 272nd flight. It joins AF-2 which passed the milestone June 26, 2012. The conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) fighter began flight operations when it made its inaugural flight Nov. 14, 2009. The F-35A flight test program has completed more than 43 percent of its overall test plan. Overall, the program’s three variants have achieved nearly 5,900 flight hours by 55 aircraft in the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) and Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) programs.

For the first time, two Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II carrier variant (CV) test aircraft refueled together with a Lockheed Martin KC-130 Hercules in the sky above Patuxent River, Md., recently. The CV aircraft, known as CF-1 and CF-2, completed the milestone as part of an aircraft flight test program that will accomplish more than 1,000 flights in 2013. Later this year, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., will receive its first CV aircraft joining the F-35 pilot and maintainer training program there.

F-35: Discussion By Experts…

Lockheed Martin hosted a webinar featuring three F-35B experts discussing the progress of the program since initial ship trials. Eric Van Camp, from fighter-jet business development, J.R. McDonald, Lockheed Martin domestic business development, and Dan Canin, a test pilot, gave their perspective on the progress of the program, highlighted key milestones and training progress, and discussed what it’s like to actually fly the F-35.

“The thing about this airplane, and probably 5th Gen. generally, [is that] it takes pretty much everything that we can define a machine to do by itself and has it do that, so that the pilot, who is now as much a systems operator as a pilot, can focus on…the higher value tasks,” Dan Canin said during the webinar. “Really, the performance of this airplane is one area that is spectacular.”

Test aircraft BF-3, flown by Lt. Cmdr. Michael Burks, completed the first aerial weapons release of an inert 500-pound GBU-12 on Dec. 3, the first GBU-12 Paveway II Laser Guided Bomb release for any variant of the aircraft. BF-3 dropped the GBU-12 over the Atlantic Test Ranges from an internal weapons bay.

“Completion of this weapons separation test is a testament to the flexibility of the ITF, where every day we are verifying different portions of the F-35 flight envelope or validating multiple planned capabilities,” said Navy Capt. Erik Etz, director of test for F-35 naval variants. “Today’s release of the GBU-12 builds on our team’s first-ever drop earlier this summer and was the result of extraordinary effort by our team of maintainers, engineers, pilots and others who consistently work long hours to deliver F-35 warfighting capability.”

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