The first international Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II rolled out of the factory Sunday evening. The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence will use the short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) jet, known as BK-1, for training and operational tests. BK-1 will undergo functional fuel system checks before being transported to the flight line for ground and flight tests in the coming months. The jet is scheduled to be delivered in 2012.
“This first F-35 for the first international program partner is symbolic of the proud partnership we share with the United Kingdom,” said F-35 Executive Vice President and General Manager of Program Integration Tom Burbage.
“Working together in a spirit of collaboration, we are providing the men and women of the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy with unmatched 5th Generation capabilities, while delivering advanced technology sector jobs to the U.K.”
Group Captain Harv Smyth, the U.K.’s Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) national deputy stated, “This is a major milestone in the JSF Programme for U.K., and we look forward to starting to operate the first British F-35s next year.
“JSF is ideally suited for U.K.’s future Combat Air capability needs, since it provides a world-class 5th Generation air system, which is capable of operating from both the land and our new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier.”
The U.K. will play a vital role in the F-35’s global production, follow-on development and sustainment over the next 40 years, bringing strong economic benefits to the country.
“This program delivers unrivalled Combat Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (Combat ISTAR) capability to the U.K. Armed Forces, as well as being a major economic driver by sustaining thousands of jobs in the U.K. over more than two decades,” added Lockheed Martin Aero U.K. Director Paul Livingston.
Global participation is a centerpiece of the F-35 program and essential for its success and affordability through economies of scale.
The program is comprised of nine partner nations: the United States, U.K., Italy, Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway. In October 2010, Israel selected the F-35A as the Israel Air Force’s next generation fighter and is scheduled to receive the F-35 through the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales process.
Additionally, Japan and the Republic of Korea are currently considering the F-35 to recapitalize their fighter fleets.
The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th Generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.