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F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: Lightning Strikes

This gallery covers all three variants of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and shows the latest U.S. warplane in various phases of its testing as it gets ready to become operational. The F-35A, -B, and -C will give the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy unique capabilities that will ensure continued dominance of battlefield airspace for years to come. After a long, sometimes difficult period of development to produce three variants of one aircraft to serve different needs in three different services, the flight testing program has accelerated. According to Lockheed Martin, in 2011, as of July 26:

  • F-35A conventional take off and landing (CTOL) jets have flown 250 times.
  • F-35B short take off/ vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft have completed 187 flights.
  • F-35C carrier variant (CV) jets have flown 81 times.
  • From the start of flight testing in December 2006 through July 25, 2011, F-35s flew 1,065 times, including the production-model flights and AA-1, the original flight test aircraft.

Perhaps lightning has struck after all for the program and successes will only continue to build in the future.


Steven Hoarn is the Editor/Photo Editor for Defense Media Network. He is a graduate of...