F-35 program reaches 10,00 hours
F-35 Lightning II program surpassed10,000 flight hours in September. More than half of the total hours were accumulated in just the past 11 months. Through September, F-35s flew 6,492 times for a total of 10,077 flight hours. The new milestone effectively doubles the safe flight operations of the F-35 in a year, compared to reaching 5,000 flight hours in six years.
This milestone was achieved by operational production aircraft operating at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., where F-35 pilots and aircraft maintainers conduct training and the combined F-35 System Development and Demonstration (SDD) and Operational Test (OT) aircraft operating at Edwards AFB, Calif., Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and Nellis AFB, Nev. All three variants: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL), the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL), and the F-35C carrier variant (CV) participated in the program milestone.
Lockheed Martin and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) celebrated the beginnings of the first F-35 Lightning II for Australia earlier this week. The aircraft, designated as AU-1, officially began the mate process, where major components of the aircraft are joined together to form the aircraft’s structure. AU-1 will then make its way down the assembly line and roll out of the factory for delivery to the RAAF in the summer of 2014.
Jeff Babione, Lockheed Martin Vice President and Deputy Program Manager for F-35, highlighted the ongoing partnership between Lockheed Martin and Australia. “Today marks a new beginning for tactical aviation for Australia,” said Babione. “Lockheed Martin is proud of our long and storied relationship with Australian aviation, and now, the F-35 will ensure that the relationship with the RAAF and Australian Industry remains strong for decades to come.”
The global supply chain for the F-35 currently has 14 Australian companies under contract and building parts for the F-35. Australian industry is expected to gain up to $6.3 billion USD in industry opportunities over the life of the F-35 program. Every F-35 built will have some Australian parts and components.
The occasion also marked a longstanding history between Lockheed Martin and Australia’s Defence Forces, beginning with the Lockheed Vega, F-111 and continuing with the F-35. Australia’s first two F-35s, now in production, will be delivered to the RAAF next year.