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Fourth F-35 Lightning II rolls out as production line fills up

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Aug. 20, 2008, Fort Worth, TX - Lockheed Martin added to its F-35 program’s momentum on Saturday by finishing assembly of the fourth F-35 aircraft, a short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B.


August 20, 2008
By Carey Fredericks

Aug. 20, 2008, Fort Worth, TX —

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Workers
at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, prepare the fourth F-35
Lightning II for rollout from the factory on Aug. 16. The F-35B short
takeoff/vertical landing variant has entered a period of systems checks
before its first flight in early 2009.

With one F-35 Lightning II aircraft in structural testing, two in
flight test, six in final assembly and another 14 in various stages of
production, Lockheed Martin added to the program’s momentum
on Saturday by finishing assembly of the fourth F-35 aircraft, a short
takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B.

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“The
completion of our fourth F-35 – and the growing line of aircraft now
forming behind it – shows an emerging rhythm in our production line,”
said Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35
program general manager. “In just a few days we will have all three
Lightning II variants in final assembly when we take delivery of the
first F-35C carrier variant center fuselage. From the very first F-35,
assembly quality has been unprecedented, and each successive aircraft
is measurably better than the one that preceded it.”

The
new aircraft was moved immediately to the flight line, where it will
undergo an extensive battery of ground tests before its first flight in
early 2009. The first F-35B made its inaugural flight on June 11 and
has completed nine missions. The first F-35A, a conventional takeoff
and landing (CTOL) variant, has flown 45 times.

The
U.S. Marine Corps is expected to operate about 340 F-35Bs. The United
Kingdom’s Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, and the Italian Air Force and
Navy also will operate the STOVL variant, which will be the world’s
first STOVL aircraft to combine stealth with supersonic speed.

The F-35 is a supersonic, multi-role, 5th
generation stealth fighter. Three F-35 variants derived from a common
design, developed together and using the same sustainment
infrastructure worldwide, will replace at least 13 types of aircraft
for 11 nations initially, making the Lightning II the most
cost-effective fighter program in history.

Lockheed Martin is developing the
F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE
Systems. Two separate, interchangeable F-35 engines are under
development: the Pratt & Whitney F135 and the GE Rolls-Royce
Fighter Engine Team F136.

Headquartered
in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that
employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in
the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and
sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The
corporation reported 2007 sales of $41.9 billion.

F-35 and Lightning II are trademarks of Lockheed Martin Corporation.