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Sun, Jul 17, 2011

First Production F-35 Delivered To Eglin AFB

Training To Get Underway For Pilots And Maintainers

The first production model F-35 Lightning II to be assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing arrived at Eglin AFB in Florida Thursday at 1318 CDT after its more than 90-minute ferry flight from Fort Worth, Texas. The aircraft, known as AF-9, will be used for activities in concert with training F-35 pilots and maintainers who begin coursework at the base's new F-35 Integrated Training Center this fall.

File Photo

AF-9 is a conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) version of the 5th generation stealth fighter. Overall, the jet is the third production-model F-35 delivered to the U.S. Air Force, with the first two assigned to Edwards AFB, CA. "We're incredibly proud of our government/industry team whose steadfast dedication to this program led to the successful delivery of AF-9 today," said Larry Lawson, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager. "The exceptional capabilities of this 5th generation fighter are now in the very capable hands of the men and women of the 33rd Fighter Wing who are ushering in a new era of F-35 training. We look forward to delivering our full complement of F-35s to the Emerald Coast in the months and years ahead."

AF-9 is the first aircraft delivered from Low Rate Initial Production lot two and the seventh F-35 delivered in program history to the Air Force. Over the lifetime of the program, a total of 59 F-35s will compose the fighter fleet at Eglin AFB.

The F-35A CTOL variant – designed to meet U.S. Air Force requirements – is also the primary export version of the Lightning II. The air forces of Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Norway and Israel will employ the F-35A. To date, the F-35 program has accomplished more than 925 flights since late 2006.

Located at Eglin AFB, the fully-integrated F-35 pilot-and-maintenance training center includes pilot and maintenance training equipment, support, systems and facilities for all three aircraft variants. The center will be home to a full spectrum of the latest courseware, electronic classrooms, simulators and flight events ensuring superior training for the next generation of pilots and maintainers.



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