May 22, 2008 (by Asif Shamim) - The United States Department of Defense has authorized the release of funds to buy six conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35A Lightning IIs for the US Air Force.
F-35A - CTOL [via jsf.mil]
Provisional approval has also been given for the purchase of six short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL
) F-35Bs for the U.S. Marine Corps.
The 12 aircraft will be built as part of the second phase of the F-35 low-rate initial production (LRIP
The contract valued at $2.2 billion came after the Defense Acquisition Board's recommendation to release the funds and proceed with production.
"We welcome the board's decision and their vote of confidence in the F-35 program," said Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager. "We're seeing excellent progress on our production line, with 17 preproduction aircraft in assembly flow, the first two production-model F-35s already under way and unprecedented assembly quality across the board."
Funds for long lead LRIP 3 valued at $197 million were released on May 14 for at least 18 additional F-35s.
The F-35A has completed 40 flights. The first flight of the F-35B is planned for late spring or early summer.