The Lockheed F-35 is an advanced stealth fifth generation fighter combining speed and superb
agility. There are three variants; F-35A, B and C. The F-35A CTOL (Conventional Take Off and
Landing) and has four internal weapons stations in two weapons bays plus three optional
external weapons stations. The F-35B STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) variant while the
F-35C is a CV (Carrier Variant). The F-35 will replace the USAF A-10 and F-16, the F/A-18 for the
USN and the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the USMC.
The first Lockheed Martin F-35C c/n CF-01 completed its maiden flight on June 6, 2010 and
lasted fifty seven minutes. On November 6, 2010, wearing a hi-vis paint scheme tail the aircraft
was delivered to the USN VX-23 “Salty Dogs” Air Test and Evaluation Squadron at Naval Air
Station Patuxent River, Maryland. VX-23 was established in 1995 and operates several types of
aircraft. On average VX-23 conducts 3,000 flights annually accumulating about 4,000 flight hours
with a large portion of this time spent conducting high-risk flight tests.