First Navy F-35 Rolls Out

Lockheed Martin yesterday rolled out the first F-35C, the variant of the stealth fighter optimized for operations from big-deck aircraft carriers, at its assembly plant in Fort Worth, Tex. This aircraft, designated CF-1, is the ninth F-35 test aircraft to come off the assembly line; it joins the existing fleet of Air Force conventional takeoff F-35A and Marine Corps short takeoff F-35B test aircraft that have already logged more than 100 flights, the company said in a release. CF-1 will undergo ground tests before its first flight, which is scheduled for late 2009. Lockheed said the Navy is on track to have its first F-35C unit available for combat in 2015.