The US Air Force has declared the first squadron of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighters combat ready.
The aircraft recently completed its first air-to-air kill test
The declaration comes after the fifth-generation combat aircraft made its first air-to-air kill on July 28 by destroying an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) target using a heat-seeking missile.
Pentagon’s largest weapon project so far
The action marks a major milestone for the $379 billion program.
This single-engine, all-weather, stealth multi-role fighter is the most expensive weapons system in the history of the US Air Force. The Air Force plans to operate the largest F-35 fleet in the world with more than 1,763 aircraft.
The F-35 will provide unmatched strike capabilities to American and allied forces
Lockheed Martin is building three distinct variants of the F-35 for the three U.S. military service branches.
So far, ten international partner countries have ordered a variety of F-35 fighter jets, including Britain, Australia, Norway, Italy, Turkey, Denmark, the Netherlands, Israel, South Korea, and Japan.
Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 fighter aircraft in its plant in Fort Worth, Texas. In addition, there are two final assembly and checkout facilities in Cameri, Italy and Nagoya, Japan.
Lockheed Martin has also offered to sell India the F-35 Lightning II in the future if the Indian Air Force picks up another aircraft, the F-16, for its fleet.
Lockheed Martin even offers to manufacture its F-16 fighter jets in India
Lockheed Martin may close the only assembly line for the F-16 aircraft, which is also located in Fort Worth, and relocate it to India to establish the country as a manufacturing base. Lockheed believes the production in India will also bring down the costs.