According to Gen. James Conway, Marine Corps Commandant, the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variant will not experience its first vertical flight testing until next spring. BF-1 arrived at NAS Patuxent River, Md. last month, when testing was put on hold temporarily for replacement of some faulty parts. The first vertical flight tests were expected to begin in summer 2009. Instead, Conway said, “I still expect to get an invitation in the spring of next year to go watch the first vertical flight at Pax River.” He acknowledged he is “very concerned” about the F-35 program, but he said he had just seen Lockheed Martin top executive Bob Stevens, who assured him the “A team” is working it and would make the 2012 initial operational capability date. Conway said, “I got to take the man at his word.” (Pentagon transcript)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.