FORT WORTH, Texas, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- The F-35B Lightning II fighter has been powered up for the first time, Lockheed Martin said Friday.
"Electrical power was applied to the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II for the first time Thursday night, initiating a series of ground tests that will lead to the inaugural flight of the short-takeoff/vertical landing stealth fighter next spring," the company said in a statement.
“The successful ‘power-on’ demonstrates that the integration of this unique aircraft is progressing to plan. It signals that production of our first F-35B Lightning II is on track for first flight next year, a key step toward realizing the aviation future of the U.S. Marines, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy,” said Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager.
The company said the aircraft was planned to leave the plant in December. "The F-35B’s power-on is an incremental process of testing the aircraft’s circuits, electronic components and wiring," it said.
"This event is one of the major milestones in the life of the STOVL aircraft and we have eagerly anticipated it for some time,” said Maj. Gen. C.R. Davis, F-35 program executive officer. “The F-35 has the most complex electrical system of any fighter to date. We had great success with the first jet we flew, but that jet taught us some very important lessons about its electrical system and those lessons have been incorporated into the jet we powered up today."
Lockheed Martin said the F-35B "incorporates parts and systems from all nine F-35 participant countries -- United States, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway) -- including the wiring harness, produced by Stork Fokker-Elmo of the Netherlands."
"The wiring harness is a crucial component of the F-35’s electrical system, routing and apportioning electrical current throughout the aircraft.The U.S. Marine Corps and Navy together are planning to operate 680 F-35Bs and F-35Cs, and (Britain) plans to place 138 F-35Bs into service with the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. The first F-35B fleet will go operational in 2012 with the Marines," the company said.