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Maiden flight for first Japanese F-35

The first Lockheed Martin F-35A fighter for Japan has performed its maiden flight.

By Richard Tomkins
Maiden flight for first Japanese F-35
The first F-35A built for Japan has completed its maiden flight. Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin

FORT WORTH, Texas, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- The first F-35 Lightning II fighter built for Japan has performed its maiden flight with a Lockheed Martin test pilot at the controls.

The aircraft, designated the AX-1, flew for more than one hour late last week after rolling off the Lockheed Martin production line in Fort Worth, Texas.

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Japan is to purchase 42 F-35s under a U.S. Foreign Military Sales deal. The AX-1 and three other F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variants are to be delivered to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force before the end of this year.

Thirty-eight of the advanced fighters will be assembled at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries final assembly and check-out facility in Nagoya, Japan.

Lockheed Martin said maintenance training for the first Japan maintainers has already begun at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Pilot training for the planes will begin at Luke AFB in Arizona beginning in November.

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