Lockheed Martin has rolled out the UK's first F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), with the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft to be delivered in 2012.
As the first F-35 to have been manufactured for an international partner, aircraft BK-1 will now enter a period of functional fuel system checks at Lockheed's Fort Worth site in Texas. It will then undergo "ground and flight tests in the coming months", the US-based airframer said.
All images © Lockheed Martin
The UK ordered three STOVL F-35Bs to participate in the US-led programme's initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) phase, but subsequently switched its interest to acquiring the larger F-35C carrier variant to meet its Joint Combat Aircraft requirement. Its third IOT&E aircraft is likely to be in the preferred production configuration, with this change to be enabled under an agreement with the US Navy.
Once delivered, the UK's aircraft will participate in joint test activities to be performed in the USA.
"This is a major milestone in the JSF programme for the UK, and we look forward to starting to operate the first British F-35s next year," said Grp Capt Harv Smyth, the UK's Joint Strike Fighter national deputy.
Source: Flight International