The first flight hour was achieved by an F-35B aircraft, BF-1, June 1, 2008. The 25,000 flight hour milestone occurred in December 2014, six years and six months later. As a sign of programme growth and maturity, the second 25,000 flight hours were reached only one year and two months later.
Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, F-35 Joint Program Executive Officer said in a press release:
“The F-35 program continues to grow and accelerate as we complete additional flight testing and increase deliveries to our U.S. and partner warfighters. The next 50,000 hours will be achieved much quicker as we double the size of the F-35 fleet worldwide in the next three years alone.”
According to the press release:
“Flight hours are divided into two main categories: Operational flying hours, flown by 155 jets delivered to six different nations, and System Development and Demonstration (SDD) flight test hours, flown by 18 aircraft assigned to the Integrated Test Forces at Edwards AFB, and NAS Pax River. Of the 50,000 hours, operational jets flew approximately 37,950 hours while SDD aircraft flew 12,050 hours. More than one third of the program’s flight hours were flown in 2015 alone. Among the three variants, approximately 26,000 hours were flown by the F-35A, 18,000 hours by the F-35B and 6,000 by the F-35C.”
At the end of last year, the US Department of Defence had accepted its 45th F-35 delivery for 2015, meeting the production goal for the year. Lockheed Martin had delivered 154 operational aircraft to the US and partner nations since the programme was initiated.
Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan said:
“Meeting aircraft production goals is a critical stepping stone in demonstrating the program is ready for the expected significant production ramp up, it took thousands of people around the world to achieve this milestone and they should all be proud of what they accomplished.”
The 45 F-35 deliveries of 2015 year included:
• 26 F-35A – U.S. Air Force
• 2 F-35A – Royal Norwegian Air Force (first two)
• 1 F-35A – Aeronautica Militare (first Italian Air Force)
• 8 F-35B – U.S. Marine Corps
• 8 F-35C – 4 U.S. Navy /4 U.S. Marine Corps
To date, more than 250 F-35 pilots and 2,400 aircraft maintainers from six nations are trained and more than 110 jets are jointly under construction at both production facilities.
Britain will purchase 138 F-35B aircraft.