The first four F-35A aircraft have been delivered to the US Air Force Warfare Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.
The conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) jets made by Lockheed Martin are assigned to the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES)of the 53rd Test and Evaluation Group and their arrival marks the beginning of operational testing and evaluation at the base.
A commemorative ceremony was held yesterday to mark their arrival, which brings the total number of CTOL aircraft delivered to the Air Force to date up to 24, with a further 58 having been delivered to the Department of Defense.
“For more than 50 years, it’s been our privilege to support the Air Force mission, and we’re honored to deliver the first four F-35A CTOL aircraft to Air Force Warfare Center,” said Orlando Carvalho, executive vice-president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.
“The work done by the Nellis team will forge the F-35 into the fighter of the future and test it to its limits. Their skilled pilots and maintainers will take the F-35’s performance to new heights and define the tactics the F-35 will one day use to defend freedom around the world.”
The 422nd TES is a composite squadron that will conduct tactics development, foreign materiel exploitation, and special access programs to optimize the systems combat capability. By 2019, a total of 12 F-35As will be assigned to the base for testing and evaluation.
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.
Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least ten other countries.
Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.