October 9, 2013 (by Laura Siebert) - The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II program continues its operational maturation, surpassing 10,000 flight hours in September. More than half of the total hours were accumulated in just the past 11 months.
Through September, F-35s flew 6,492 times for a total of 10,077 flight hours. The new milestone effectively doubles the safe flight operations of the F-35 in a year, compared to reaching 5,000 flight hours in six years.
This milestone was achieved by operational production aircraft operating at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., where F-35 pilots and aircraft maintainers conduct training and the combined F-35 System Development and Demonstration (SDD
) and Operational Test (OT) aircraft operating at Edwards AFB
, Calif., Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and Nellis AFB, Nev. All three variants: the F-35A Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL
), the F-35B Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing (STOVL
), and the F-35C Carrier Variant (CV
) participated in the program milestone.
The F-35 Lightning II
is a 5th generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least 10 other countries.