Lightning Strikes Thrice

AF-3, the third Air Force F-35A test aircraft, has arrived at Edwards AFB, Calif., for flight testing, Lockheed Martin announced Tuesday. It joins AF-1 and AF-2, the first two F-35A test platforms, there. “AF-3 will focus on testing advanced technologies and mission systems,” states Lockheed’s release. In fact, it is the first F-35A test aircraft fitted with the mission systems that operational F-35s will carry, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Overall, it is the second such-equipped F-35 test aircraft, following BF-4, a Marine Corps F-35B airframe. AF-3 flew in to Edwards from Lockheed’s aircraft assembly plant in Fort Worth, Tex. Along with its arrival, Lockheed also declared that it has conducted 400 F-35 flight tests so far in 2010, as of Monday. On Dec. 9, the test program reached 394 flights, the goal that the company had set out for the entire year.