The United Kingdom’s first Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II production aircraft has flown its inaugural flight
April 16: BK-01, the United Kingdom’s first Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II production aircraft, flew its inaugural flight on April 13.
Lockheed Martin test pilot Bill Gigliotti took the F-35B, serial ZM135, short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) jet through a series of functional flight checks during a sortie that lasted 45 minutes. The jet will complete a series of company and government checkout flights prior to its acceptance by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and moving to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida later this year. Although the MoD changed to the F-35C naval carrier variant (CV) in October 2010, it was too late to change the early production aircraft ordered, but the decision to go with the F-35C may again be reversed.
“Not only is this a watershed moment for the Joint Strike Fighter programme, since BK-01 is the first international F-35 to fly, but it also brings us one step closer to delivery of this essential fifth Generation capability for the UK, ” said Group Captain Harv Smyth, the Joint Strike Fighter UK National Deputy.