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May 22, 2012

Small step forward for F-35 program

A Marine Corps F-35B made its first flight Tuesday since being turned over to the Marines and the pilot training program at Eglin Air force Base in Florida.

A dozen F-35s, A and B models, have been delivered to Eglin for use in training but the actual beginning of flight training is on hold while the training squadron instructors fulfill Pentagon imposed flight time requirements and other steps deemed necessary to assure the safety of pilot training.

Until Tuesday, only F-35A models had been flown in the preparations leading to pilot training. The F-35B flight was in conventional takeoff and landing mode, preparing for eventual training in the aircraft's short-takeoff and vertical landing capabilities.

The aircraft now stationed at Eglin are being used for training military mechanics and taxi tests, getting the crews more familiar with the aircraft.

All of the U.S. military services and the other F-35 buyers will train their initial pilots at Eglin in the early years of the program.

- Bob Cox

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