British test pilot Graham Tomlinson of BAE Systems had the honor of making the recent first flight on the premier system design and development (SDD) F-35B Lightning II on 11 June 2008 out of Fort Worth, Texas. Following the 44-minute maiden flight, Tomlinson said: ìA great team effort led to a relaxed first flight, with the aircraft handling and performing just as we predicted based on STOVL simulator testing and flying the F-35A.î
The F-35Bís short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) demonstration flights ñ short takeoffs, vertical landings and hovers, are scheduled to begin in early 2009.
The F-35B will carry the very latest laser ñ and satellite-guided munitions for its primary strike mission, a 25mm cannon and heat-seeking and radar-guided missiles for self defense.
With its supersonic speed and 5th generation stealth capabilities the Lockheed Martin F-35B will be the ultimate strike fighter for years to come. Whether launching from hidden places in the woods or from ships at sea, the F-35B will be a more than capable replacement of the non-stealthy, subsonic Harrier II thatís served so well for so many years.
Customers for the F-35B Lightning II include the U.S. Marine Corps, the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy of the United Kingdom, and the Italian Air Force and Navy.