The United States Marine Corps has accepted delivery of its very first F-35 stealth light bomber - or some of it anyway.
"The Lockheed Martin-built plane’s computerized logistical system,
flight software and special helmet still aren’t ready — and it lacks
But, other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, what did you think of the play?
“This aircraft will be used to conduct a full spectrum of aviation
operations in support of combat missions and maritime readiness
worldwide,” the Pentagon boasted about its new frontline JSF.
Sure, eventually. And only after more testing, more design
changes and potentially millions of dollars in modifications each to
this jet and others like it. The Marines anticipate VMFA-121 being
war-ready with 16 fully equipped F-35s no earlier than 2015, a slip of one year
compared to the 2011 plan. In the meantime, the squadron will oversee
some pilot and ground-crew training, complementing the main
instructional effort in Florida and testing in California.
BF-19 is part of the Pentagon’s Low-Rate Initial Production of the stealthy JSF, meaning it was expensive — no less than $200 million
— and assembled while Lockheed and the military were still working out
the plane’s precise configuration. In April the Defense Department paid Lockheed $65 million to fix identified problems on dozens of F-35s it had already manufactured, presumably including BF-19.
JSF flight testing began in 2006 but is only 25 percent complete. As such, the list of things the F-35 still doesn’t have is a long one.