The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Program completed 30 aircraft deliveries and achieved significant advances in flight test highlighting a year of continued progress for 2012. The 30 F-35 deliveries in 2012 included 11 Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOLs), 18 Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing (STOVL) variants, and one Carrier Variant (CV).
Two of the STOVLs were the program’s first two international jets, which were delivered to the United Kingdom. All but the carrier variant, known as CF-5, were production aircraft delivered to various bases for operational purposes.
CF-5 was built for flight testing and delivered to the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) program. The 30 aircraft delivered in 2012 is more than double the 13 aircraft delivered in 2011.
The 2012 flight test plan called for 988 flights and 8,458 test points by Dec. 31. For the year, the SDD program flew 1,167 flights and tallied 9,319 test points.
The F-35A Flight Science test aircraft flew 291 flights and accomplished 2,573 test points. The F-35B Flight Science test aircraft accomplished 396 flights and 2,443 test points.
The F-35C flew 239 flights and tallied 2,247 test points. The Mission Systems test aircraft accomplished 241 flights and 2,056 test points. The F-35B also executed 102 vertical landings.
The cumulative 2012 milestones were achieved through a combination of planned test flights and test points, along with test flights and test points added throughout the year. The flight test program is now more than one third complete in aggregate with the Air Force’s F-35A variant leading the way with 43 percent complete.
“We are completing our third year of on-plan system development performance since the F-35 Program Executive Office completed its Technical Baseline Review in 2010,” said Orlando Carvalho, Lockheed Martin F-35 program executive vice president and general manager.
“We fully expect this to continue in 2013 as we begin flight test of the Block 2B mission system software which will ultimately provide the initial war-fighting capability the Marines need for their initial operational capability.
“This successful system development progress, a maturing production line and further operational base stand up are all strong indicators of the F-35 program’s positive trajectory.”
Other 2012 major milestones:
- U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced the end of probation for the F-35B STOVL, nearly one year ahead of schedule.
- The first two international F-35s were delivered to the United Kingdom.
- The first three operational F-35B STOVL fighters delivered in November marked the beginning of tactical operational training at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz.
- 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., completed its Operational Utility Evaluation (OUE) and Air Education and Training Command (AETC) officials announced that the wing is ready for pilot training in 2013. The wing flew more than 700 sorties in 2012.
- Norway procured its first F-35 commencing the largest public procurement project in its history. The event was marked by Minister of Defence Espen Barth Eide authorizing the order for the first F-35A for the Norwegian Armed Forces.
- Luke AFB was selected for F-35A U.S. and international pilot training. The base will receive 72 aircraft for three fighter squadrons.
- Major flight test accomplishments included the first aerial weapons release for the CTOL and STOVL; the F-35A reached maximum high-angle-of-attack milestone in four flights; the first night flight and night refueling missions were accomplished and both the CTOL and STOVL completed air-start testing.
- F-35 program surpassed 5,000 flight hours.
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.