The F-35B was rolled out amid customers from the United States MarineCorps, the United Kingdom's Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, and the Italian Air Force
Attendees at the rollout ceremony in Lockheed Martin's Fort Worthassembly plant included Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway. "Theflexibility that the STOVLvariant of the F-35 will add to the contemporary Marine Air Ground TaskForce is amazing," Conway said. "This generational leap in technologywill enable us to operate a fleet of fighter/attack aircraft from thedecks of ships, existing runways or from unimproved surfaces at austerebases. We find that capability extremely valuable."
The F-35B, designed to replace Marine Corps AV-8Bs and F/A-18s, is oneof three variants of the Lightning II. Its first flight is planned formid-2008, following a series of extensive ground tests. The F-35Aconventional takeoff and landing version began its flight test programin December of 2006. The F-35C, designed for catapult launches andarrested recoveries aboard large U.S. Navy carriers, will make itsinaugural flight in 2009.
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