Lockheed Martin on 11 January delivered the first two F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variants to Eglin AFB, Florida.

The aircraft, designated BF-6 (pictured below) and BF-8, are the first early production versions of the STOVL variant to arrive at the training base, joining six conventional take-off and landing F-35As.

Last July, US Air Force officials first said that three F-35Bs were scheduled for delivery to Eglin AFB by December 2011 to inaugurate the US Marine Corps' training operations. However, the USAF clarified shortly afterward that only one F-35B would be delivered before January.

 F-35B BF-6 Eglin - Lockheed Martin

© Lockheed Martin

But the two aircraft arrived 11 days after the start of the new year, flying into Eglin at 15:13 and 16:39, respectively.

The aircraft were ordered in 2007 under the second lot of low rate-initial production (LRIP). So far, Lockheed has delivered eight of the 12 aircraft in LRIP-2, plus both aircraft ordered from LRIP-1.

The F-35B remains under a loosely defined probation set last year by US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Since that time, the aircraft has resolved three major propulsion system issues, and completed a shipboard landing demonstration on the amphibious carrier the USS Wasp last October.

Source: Flight International