The US Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center (AFOTEC) will lead the operational test and evaluation of the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter.

The F-35 programme involves the design and development of a fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft to deliver joint and coalition multirole capabilities for a consortium of nine nations including the US.

US AFOTEC commander Major General Stephen T Sargeant said the AFOTEC detatchment 1 will conduct operational test and evaluation on the JSF with three services and two international partners.

“Early influence allows us to maintain an operational focus to ensure our combatant commanders have the right tools to win today’s and tomorrow’s battles,” he said.

The F-35 is projected to achieve operational capability by 2013.