January 11, 2012 (by Mike Rein) - The first two Lockheed Martin production model F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft were delivered to the U.S. Marine Corps today. The two jets are now assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing's Marine Fighter/Attack Training Squadron 501 residing with the host 33d Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla.
BF-6, the first F-35B STOVL production jet delivered to the USMC, arrives at its new assignment with the 2nd MAW's VMFAT-501 at Eglin AFB on January 11th, 2012. The 5th Generation fighter jet, piloted by USMC pilot Maj. Joseph Bachmann, touched down on Florida’s Emerald Coast at 15.13h CST after a 90-minute ferry flight. [Lockheed Martin photo by Angel DelCueto]
The aircraft, known as BF-6 and BF-8, flew separately arriving at 15.13h. and 16.39h. CST respectively after their approximate 90-minute ferry flights from Fort Worth, Texas. U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Joseph Bachmann piloted BF-6 while U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Matt Taylor flew BF-8. Both 5th Generation fighters will be used for pilot and maintainer training at the new F-35 Integrated Training Center.
"Today marks the beginning of a new era of advanced capabilities for the U.S. Marine Corps," said Larry Lawson, Lockheed Martin's F-35 program executive vice president and general manager. "The F-35B's versatility, as demonstrated onboard the USS WASP (LHD-1) last fall, will revolutionize our nation’s expeditionary combat power in all threat environments by allowing operations from major bases, damaged airstrips, remote locations and a wide range of air-capable ships. This aircraft will give our warfighters the ability to accomplish their mission, wherever and whenever duty calls."
F-35 STOVLs met many critical milestones in 2011. In October, F-35Bs conducted their first set of ship trials, known as Developmental Test 1, 20 miles off the coast of Wallops Island, Va. During the 19-day testing period, BF-2 and BF-4 conducted 72 vertical landings and short takeoffs, accomplishing all test milestones during the mission. For the year, F-35Bs accomplished 333 System Development and Demonstration test flights and 268 vertical landings.
BF-6 and BF-8 are the first two F-35 deliveries to the Department of Defense in 2012 and the seventh and eighth F-35 aircraft delivered to Eglin AFB
since July 2011. Previously, six U.S. Air Force F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL
) jets were delivered to the base.
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-B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least nine other countries.
Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE