Greased for Lightnings

The first group of maintenance crews that will support F-35 flight test aircraft at Edwards AFB, Calif., and NAS Patuxent River, Md., has completed classroom instruction and certification training, Lockheed Martin announced May 2. These mechanics and technicians, who came from industry as well as the US and UK militaries, will now help prepare the two sites for receipt of the test aircraft, the company said. Approximately 500 certified maintainers will be assigned to the 13 flight test aircraft that will deploy to Edwards and Patuxent River over the next five years. AA-1, the first F-35A test aircraft, has already completed 40 flights to date at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Fort Worth, Tex. It will deploy temporarily to Edwards in late May or early June for expanded flight test activities, before returning to Fort Worth in the summer. The first test aircraft in the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing configuration will transfer to Patuxent River by early 2009 for STOVL-mode flight testing. This aircraft is set to fly for the first time in May or June in Fort Worth.