Make That Two

AF-7, the Air Force’s second production-version F-35A strike fighter, has flown for the first time, prime contractor Lockheed Martin announced Monday. The conventional takeoff and landing aircraft took to the skies for 1.3 hours during its maiden mission on March 4 from NAS Fort Worth JRB, Tex., which is adjacent to the company’s F-35 assembly plant. AF-7 is the second and final aircraft built during the F-35’s first low-rate initial production lot. Its sibling, AF-6, flew for the first time in late February. Both AF-6 and AF-7 are scheduled to head to Edwards AFB, Calif., in the coming weeks to support F-35 developmental flight testing. They will then transfer to Eglin AFB, Fla., for the F-35 training schoolhouse. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last week the first Air Force F-35s will arrive at Eglin “in just over two months.” (Lockheed Martin photo caption by Randy Crites) (Gates transcript)