Lockheed Martin’s first weight-optimised F-35A Joint Strike Fighter will soon be returned to flight test, having undergone final finishing and painting at the company’s Fort Worth site in Texas.

Pictured after receiving its robot-applied stealth coatings and a hand-painted fin flash on its vertical stabilizers, AF-1 will soon be ferried to Edwards AFB in California to support US Air Force testing of the F-35 Lightning II.

 F-35A AF-1 paint - LM
© Lockheed Martin

Rolled out in December 2008, the conventional take-off and landing aircraft was flown twice at Fort Worth from last November (debut flight pictured below), before entering a period of ground test.

 F-35A AF-1 debut - LM
© Lockheed Martin

Lockheed retired CTOL test aircraft AA-1 late last year after completing more than 90 flights with the platform, which weighed around 2,270kg (5,000lb) more than AF-1.

Source: FlightGlobal.com