The STOVL F-35

Lockheed Martin on Dec. 18 rolled out the first short takeoff and vertical landing Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35B, destined for the US Marine Corps and Britain’s Royal Navy and Royal Marine Corps and the Italian Air Force and Navy. The company expects to make first flight in mid-2008. The USAF version, the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant, began its flight tests in December 2006. Despite a later start, the F-35B is slated to become operational for USMC in 2012, a year earlier than USAF’s version. A company release notes that Lockheed has an additional six development STOVL F-35s in production and has the long-lead procurement funding for the first six production F-35Bs, planned for 2011 delivery.