First compliant F-35A flies
Lockheed Martin's first optimized conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35 Lightning II fighter made its inaugural flight on Saturday, Nov. 14, the fourth F-35 to begin flight operations.
Piloted by Lockheed Martin test pilot David "Doc" Nelson, the F-35A, called AF-1, left Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth plant and flew to 20,000 feet and Mach 0.6. Nelson raised and lowered the landing gear, performed 360-degree rolls and lifted the nose to 20 degrees angle of attack during an 89-minute flight.
AF-1 was built on the same production line as the 31 Low Rate Initial Production aircraft now in assembly. The aircraft incorporates many evolutionary improvements and updates derived from the test program of AA-1, the first F-35. AF-1 joins two F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variants currently in flight test.