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F-35 aircraft nearing inaugural flight

Nov. 20, 2006 at 1:57 PM

FORT WORTH, Texas, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth, Texas, factory is gearing up for the inaugural flight of its first all-new plane produced in more than three decades.

The F-35 Lightning II is set to hurl down the runway in about three weeks for a test flight that was originally scheduled for August, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

"The plane seems to be coming together real well," Brig. Gen. Charles Davis, the Air Force officer overseeing the program for the government and the military, told the newspaper.

Davis said the goal is to fly the F-35 twice in a 3-day period and then begin regular test flights.

"What I'd be concerned about is if we'd flown at the end of September and then have it sit on the ground for weeks and weeks before we flew it again," he said.

Some 4,000 workers at Lockheed's Forth Worth plant are involved in design, production and development of the F-35 along with 13 design teams from around the world that are working on portions of the aircraft structure, the Star-Telegram said.

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