F-35 Lightning II aircraft operating at 12 different locations worldwide have surpassed the 50,000 flight-hours mark this month.
The first flight hour was achieved by an F-35B aircraft, BF-1, on June 1, 2008. The 25,000 flight-hour milestone occurred in December 2014, six years and six months later. As a sign of program growth and maturity, the second 25,000 flight hours were reached only one year and two months later.
Flight hours are divided into two main categories: Operational flying hours, flown by 155 jets delivered to six different nations; and System Development and Demonstration (SDD) flight test hours, flown by 18 aircraft assigned to the Integrated Test Forces at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and Naval Air Station Patuxent River (NAS Pax River), in Maryland. Of the 50,000 hours, operational jets flew approximately 37,950 hours while SDD aircraft flew 12,050 hours. More than one third of the program’s flight hours were flown in 2015 alone. Among the three variants, approximately 26,000 hours were flown by the F-35A, 18,000 hours by the F-35B, and 6,000 by the F-35C.
Flight hours were also recorded at the two F-35 production facilities at Cameri, Italy, and Fort Worth, Texas. To date, more than 250 F-35 pilots and 2,400 aircraft maintainers from six nations are trained and more than 110 jets are jointly under construction at both production facilities.
Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the F-16 Fighting Falcon and A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II for the US Air Force, the F/A-18 Hornet for the US Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the US Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least ten other countries.
Following the US Marine Corps’ July 2015 combat-ready Initial Operational Capability (IOC) declaration, the US Air Force and US Navy intend to attain service IOC this summer and in 2018, respectively.
February 12, 2016