Skip to main content

Lineup of F-35 Lightning II fighters on tarmacF-35 development, flight testing, manufacturing

Development updates

  • F-35B first flight successfully completed on June 11, 2008
  • USAF Lt. Col. James Kromberg becomes first military pilot to fly F-35 on Jan. 30, 2008
  • All three variants have successfully completed Critical Design Review.
  • Final Block 3 software capabilities defined.

F-35 AA-1 flight testing

  • Forty-three flights completed as of May 29, 2008.
  • In-flight refueling system qualifications complete.
  • Flight Test Update 3.0 installation complete.
  • First military pilot to fly the F-35 (Jan. 30) described handling as “phenomenal.”
  • Speed of Mach 0.9 achieved on Jan. 10, 2008
  • Ascent to 38,000 feet on May 3, 2007
  • Helmet-Mounted Display System flown for first time on April 4, 2007.
  • F-35 AA-1 successfully completed its first flight on Dec. 15, 2006.
  • Aircraft incorporates content from all nine F-35 participant countries.
  • The first F-35B (BF-1), the short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant, is on the flight line.
  • First flight successfully completed on June 11
  • Five flights as of July 9, 2008
  • All ground tests completed on June 9.
  • Successful ground test of STOVL propulsion system conducted on May 25.
  • Successful afterburner engine runs on May 16.
  • Aircraft moved from production line to flight line on Dec.18.


  • All System Development and Demonstration aircraft are in production or on the flight line; first production-model F-35s started.
  • Manufacturing pace is increasing; all test aircraft are in flight testing or production.
  • The first two Low Rate Initial Production aircraft are also in the manufacturing flow
  • The F-35 Cooperative Avionics Test Bed has begun airborne avionics testing.
  • The “CATBird,” a highly modified 737, will be used to validate the F-35’s massively powerful integrated avionics suite in flight before the avionics are flown on the F-35 aircraft.
  • CATBird will fly and proof-test the complete, integrated F-35 mission systems package before it flies in an F-35 aircraft.
  • CATB installations are under way for the AESA radar, inertial nav system, GPS, electronic warfare, and an F-35 cockpit to support airborne Block 0.5 avionics testing.
  • CATBird resumed test flights on Dec. 7 following hardware and software installations.
  • Aerial testing of F-35 Communications-Navigation-Identification system completed in half the time planned.


  • The F-35 Autonomic Logistics and Global Sustainment (ALGS) system is active and supporting Manufacturing and Flight Testing
  • F-35 Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) was switched on April 30.
  • ALGS Operations Center is now operational.
  • Funding approved for Low Rate Initial Production lot 2 (12 aircraft)
  • Long-lead funding approved for Low Rate Initial Production lot 3 (18 aircraft)
  • International Partners: All JSF participant countries have joined the F-35 program’s next phase. Those countries are the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway.
  • Program Funding: Funding for the first two production aircraft has been approved by Congress and is under contract, and initial fabrication of those two airplanes is under way.
  • Funding for the second phase of low-rate initial production (LRIP 2), and long-lead funding for third phase (LRIP 3), has been authorized by the Department of Defense.
  • LRIP 2 funding provides approval to purchase six conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35As for the US Air Force, with provisional approval to purchase six short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) F-35Bs for the U.S. Marine Corps following a senior leadership review and the inaugural flight of that variant.
  • LRIP 3 approval provides long-lead funding for at least 18 additional F-35s.
  • First Flights Remaining: Carrier variant (CV) F-35C first flight in 2009
  • Initial Operational Capability (IOC) dates are: 2012 for USMC; 2013 for USAF; 2015 for US Navy

Quantities (planned):

  • USAF 1,763
  • USN/USMC 680
  • RAF/RN 138
  • Italy 131
  • Netherlands 85
  • Turkey 100
  • Australia 100
  • Norway 48
  • Denmark 48
  • Canada 60
  • Average Unit Recurring Flyaway Cost (in FY 2002 dollars – the most recent comprehensive estimate) :

F-35A upper-$40 million
F-35B mid-$60 million
F-35C mid-$60 million

Source: Lockheed Martin

For additional information, visit Also visit Lockheed Martin’s Flickr to see F-35 photographs.