Hill AFB, Utah, hosted a ceremony on 20 September marking the arrival of the first Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighter to a depot facility for upgrading. Industry sources say the aircraft had arrived at the US Air Force’s Air Logistics Complex on 13 September.
“This aircraft was designed from its inception to evolve through modifications and upgrades so that our warfighters can continually outpace their opposition,” says Lorraine Martin, Lockheed’s F-35 vice-president and general manager.
The first F-35A to arrive is assigned to the 53rd Test and Evaluation Group at Nellis AFB, Nevada, and is expected to be used in the Block 2B operational testing and evaluation programme in 2015. The aircraft will receive a number of structural and avionics retrofits needed for the F-35 to complete its operational evaluations.
The US Marine Corps hopes to declare the short take-off and vertical landing F-35B variant operational in July 2015 with a Block 2B configuration. The USAF will follow suit in August 2016 using a Block 3i configuration, which is the same software load as Block 2B, but hosted on newer computer hardware.