The first dedicated flight test F-35 aircraft with production representative very-low observable airframe structure and coatings has been rolled out by Lockheed Martin.
The F-35, a supersonic, multirole, fifth-generation stealth fighter, will serve the US Air Force, UK forces and seven other nations.
Lockheed Martin vice president of F-35 development JD McFarlan said that the F-35 highly accurate low-observable (HALO) radar pole model is fully representative of the F-35's radar signature and will help in validating the fighter's radar-evading properties.
"The aircraft will be used in tests that provide data about the radar-signature characteristics of the F-35 aircraft family," he said.
The model will be initially tested at a radio frequency-secure building to acquire data on the aircraft's stealth performance. The model will then be tested at a remote site atop a pole in open air.
The United States Department of Defense recently ordered 17 of the fighters in the third lot of low-rate initial production. Initial deliveries to the USAF will begin in 2010.
The US and the other eight partner nations plan to acquire 3,173 F-35 fighters under the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter programme.