A pair of F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) production aircraft were ferried to Eglin Air Force Base, FL, Thursday, marking the 24th and 25th F-35 deliveries to the Department of Defense. The 5th Generation multirole fighter jets were delivered to the United States Marine Corps and are now assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing’s Marine Fighter/Attack Squadron 501 residing with the host 33d Fighter Wing.
U.S. Marine Corps pilots Maj. Joseph Bachmann and Lt. Col. Matt Kelly piloted the aircraft, known as BF-9 and BF-10 respectively, which departed Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, TXn at 1326 and 1342 CDT for an approximate 90-minute flight to Florida’s Emerald Coast. The jets became the 10th and 11th F-35s to join Eglin’s fleet. Both jets will be used for pilot and maintainer training at the F-35 Integrated Training Center there.
One additional STOVL production jet, BF-11, will join the fleet at Eglin in the coming days. All three jets were formally accepted by the U.S. Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) on behalf of the Marine Corps with the signing of Department of Defense Form 250 (DD-250). BF-9 and BF-10 were accepted May 4 while BF-11 was accepted May 5. Prior to acceptance, the three F-35Bs underwent a series of company and government checkout flights at Lockheed Martin’s F-35 production facility in Fort Worth, TX.
In a related development, U.S. Marine Corps test pilot Lt. Col. Matthew Kelly flies F-35B test aircraft BF-3 in an Atlantic test range May 3 in what was the 200th test flight for BF-3 measured stresses on the aircraft during supersonic maneuvers.