Ten down, three to go. Lockheed Martin flew F-35A model (AF-4) for the first time on Thursday, getting one last flight and one last accomplishment in before wrapping up 2010.
The aircraft is the first A model with the full missions systems, in their current form, on board. An F-35B with missions systems has been flying at Patuxent River.
The flight was number 410 for the year, compared to 394 that were planned. But the A models, three of which are already flying at Edwards Air Force Base, are flying more often and more reliably than expected. The five F-35B models, however, continue to run behind schedule.
The F-35A is the conventional-takeoff-and-landing model destined for use by the U.S. Air force and, presumably, most foreign buyers. It will be interesting to watch and see if this plane continues to fly immediately or whether this was a "beat the deadline" flight for schedule and contract reasons.