VIDEO: Another delay for F-35 vertical landing test?

The timing of the first vertical landing for the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter seems to defy schedules even more than its lift fan defies gravity.

Gen James Conway, commandant of the US Marine Corps and the F-35B’s biggest customer, let slip yesterday that the jump-jet’s critical first vertical landing event could happen as late as June, which — depending on which schedule you start with — is more than a year late.

Conway’s possible confession came yesterday during an hour-long question and answer session at the Pentagon. On the video below, Conway makes a comment at the 1:22 mark that seems to contradict Lockheed Martin, whose spokesman told me on Monday that the vertical landing event could occur as soon as January.

“I still fully expect to get an invitation in the spring of next year to go watch the first vertical flight at [Patuxent] River, and if that happens — again, the contractors and the program manager tell me — we will be generally on the schedule that they think we need to follow,” Conway says.

I asked the Marine Corps press desk to clarify the meaning of the Commandant’s statement. The USMC spokesman told me that Conway understands the vertical landing event could occur at any time between now and the end of May.

Conway strongly emphasizes that he accepts Lockheed’s word that the F-35B will be ready to enter service on schedule, which means before September 30, 2012.   


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One Response to VIDEO: Another delay for F-35 vertical landing test?

  1. Dave 16 December, 2009 at 4:26 pm #

    Do you think we could genetically engineer flying pigs between now and 2012?

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