Second F-35B arrives at USN's Patuxent River base

Washington DC
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The US Navy now has two F-35Bs at Patuxent River, Maryland, to complete a series of tests leading to the first transition from horizontal flight to a vertical landing.

The flight test aircraft designated BF-2 landed at the USN's flight test centre at 14:26 today. US Marine Corps Maj Joseph T. "O.D." Bachmann flew the aircraft nonstop from Fort Worth, Texas, completing one aerial refuelling during the 3h 19min flight.

 
© Lockheed Martin

BF-1 arrived at Patuxent River on 15 November, but remained parked until 23 December to complete a series of repairs.

The two aircraft are expected to complete up to 12 flight tests before reaching the vertical landing event, an early milestone in the programme's flight test schedule.

The vertical landing has slipped from its originally scheduled date last June. Lockheed Martin has said the event could still occur as soon as January. But the event could slide until the end of May, according to USMC officials.