Britain’s First F-35 Takes Flight

BK-1, Britain’s first production F-35 strike fighter, left the ground for the first time, climbing away from Lockheed Martin’s facility at Fort Worth, Tex., announced the company. “Not only is this a watershed moment for the Joint Strike Fighter program, since BK-1 is the first international F-35 to fly, but it also brings us one step closer to delivery of this essential fifth generation capability for the UK,” said Group Capt. Harv Smyth, Britain’s F-35 program representative, in commenting on the aircraft’s April 13 flight. Lockheed test pilot Bill Gigliotti put the F-35B short-takeoff and vertical-landing jet through its paces, checking system functionality during the 45-minute flight. BK-1’s first flight came as Britain’s government is mulling reversing its October 2010 decision to abandon the F-35B in favor of the carrier-optimized F-35C, reports Britain’s Daily Mail. BK-1, which will serve as Britain’s test and training aircraft at Eglin AFB, Fla., was ordered before that decision. (See also Esau’s Bowl of Soup.)