The Japan Air Self Defense Force’s (JASDF) first F-35A Lightning II all-weather, stealth multirole fighter has successfully completed its maiden flight.
Designated AX-1, the aircraft was piloted by Lockheed Martin’s F-35 test pilot Paul Hattendorf and flew for more than one hour.
Japan is to purchase 42 F-35A conventional take off and landing (CTOL) through the US government’s foreign military sales programme.
Four of the aircraft are being assembled in Fort Worth, US, and are expected to be delivered by the end of 2016.
The remaining 38 aircraft are being constructed at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries final assembly and check-out facility in Nagoya, Japan.
Maintenance training for the first Japan maintainers has already begun at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida, and training of the first JASDF F-35 pilots is scheduled to begin at Luke AFB, Arizona, in November.
The F-35 is a fifth generation fighter featuring multi-spectral sensors and integrated avionics.
The aircraft is capable of performing air-to-air, air-to-ground and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
The advanced electronic warfare capabilities allow F-35 pilots to locate and track enemy forces, jam radars and disrupt attacks with unparalleled effectiveness.
Image: Japan is to purchase 42 F-35As through the US government’s foreign military sales programme. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin.