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Picture: Third F-35A joins test fleet


A third Lockheed Martin F-35A has joined the test fleet.

December 16: The third Lockheed Martin F-35A to join the test fleet at Edwards Air Force Base in California tops off its fuel tanks while cruising west toward its destination after departing the company’s facility at Fort Worth in Texas on December 11.

Lockheed Martin test pilot Bill Gigliotti flew AF-03 on the 1,200-mile ferry flight. AF-03 will focus on testing advanced technologies and mission systems.

Lockheed Martin says that the F-35 programme achieved its goal of 394 flights in 2010 on December 9 and reached the 400-flight mark on December 13. Since the first flight of the F-35 on December15, 2006, the programme has logged a total of 531 flights. “We exceeded our 394-flight goal and expect to meet our overall test-point goal this year by reaching ahead and working 2011 test points,” said J D McFarlan, Lockheed Martin vice president of F-35 Test and Verification. “While we are still behind on our overall STOVL variant testing, we are working through a plan to get us back on track.”

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