F-35C: First Stealth Fighter for U.S. Navy unveiled
A ceremony today at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth plant marked the rollout of the U.S. Navy’s first-ever stealth fighter, the F-35C Lightning II.
Top Navy leadership, signal flags and a crowd of employees, including reserve and retired Navy personnel, were on hand to celebrate the strike fighter’s unveiling. Adm. Gary Roughead, the U.S. Navy’s Chief of Naval Operations, welcomed the new aircraft to the fleet.
The first F-35C, known as CF-1, will undergo a wide-ranging series of ground tests before its first flight, scheduled for late 2009. CF-1 is the ninth F-35 test aircraft to be rolled out, and joins a fleet of F-35A (conventional takeoff and landing) and F-35B (short takeoff/vertical landing) variants that have logged more than 100 flights.
The F-35C is on schedule to meet the Navy’s Initial Operational Capability in 2015, and represents a leap in technology and capability over existing fighters, combining stealth with supersonic speed and high agility. The F-35C possesses uncompromised carrier suitability and low-maintenance stealth materials designed for long-term durability in the carrier environment, claims Lockheed Martin, which said that the Lightning II’s operational and support costs are forecast to be lower than those of the fighters it will replace.