The F-35's Best Year Yet
The F-35 program reached remarkable new heights in 2015, with increased orders, deliveries to domestic and international customers, the first initial operational capability declaration, and 45 jets produced. As of the end of 2015, there were 160 jets in the field and six nations flying the F-35. Some of the program's biggest milestones from the year include:
The first F-35 for the Italian Air Force, AL-1, rolled out of the Final Assembly and Check Out facility in Cameri, Italy, March 12. This historic rollout marked the first F-35 to complete its final assembly outside the United States and was just one of the Italian F-35 Program’s many 2015 milestones. In September, AL-1 achieved the inaugural F-35 European flight and was officially delivered to the Italian Air Force in December.
The 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, received its first F-35 in 2014 and flew nearly 3,000 sorties before the end of 2015. In 2015, Luke started F-35 pilot training, to include pilots from the United States, Australia, Norway and Italy. The F-35 growth at Luke was marked by May’s Change of Mission Ceremony. The new mission is to train the world’s greatest F-35 and F-16 fighter pilots. By the end of 2024, Luke is scheduled to have six squadrons of 144 F-35s and pilots from 10 other nations.
On July 31, the U.S. Marine Corps declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the F-35B. Ten F-35Bs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA-121), based at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, made up the first operational squadron, ready for worldwide deployment.
Watch an overview of milestones that led to IOC:
Hill Air Force Base, Utah, received its first two F-35 Lightning II aircraft on Sept. 1. Hill is the tenth military base to receive the F-35 and plans to have 72 F-35As by 2019.
Officials from Norway’s Ministry of Defence visited the F-35 produ
ction facility in Fort Worth, Texas, on Sept. 22 to celebrate the rollout of AM-1, their first F-35A. AM-1 and AM-2 were delivered to the Royal Norwegian Air Force in 2015, and Norwegian pilots began training at Luke Air Force Base.
Watch highlights from the Rollout Ceremony:
In October, the F-35C completed Development Test II (DT-II) aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. This test, the second in a series of three at-sea tests planned for the F-35C, provided the opportunity to test and evaluate a variety of operational maneuvers for the F-35, including catapult takeoffs and arrested landings.
Watch highlights from DT-II: