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Posted: 12/23/2005 10:59:49 AM EDT
FORT WORTH, Texas, December 20, 2005 --

With the installation of horizontal tails on the first F-35, the Lockheed
Martin Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) team has completed assembly
of the aircraft's major structural components. The next milestone in the
aircraft's march to first flight is engine installation, planned for early
2006.

Technicians have completed major-component assembly of the first F-35 Joint
Strike Fighter at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth. First flight is planned for
next fall. The F-35 will be the most powerful single-engine fighter ever
flown.

"The speed and precision of assembly on this airplane continues to impress
even the most experienced aerospace veterans among us and far exceeds any
program that has gone before it," said Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin
executive vice president and F-35 JSF program general manager. "The ease
with which this aircraft has come together, along with the quality of the
fit and finish, is simply unprecedented in a first-off-the-line aircraft. It
puts us down the path toward meeting our affordability goals."

The stealthy F-35 is a supersonic, multi-role, 5thgeneration fighter
designed to replace aging AV-8B Harriers, A-10s, F-16s, F/A-18 Hornets and
United Kingdom Harrier GR.7s and Sea Harriers. First flight is planned for
fall 2006.

The horizontal tails installed on Dec. 8 and the vertical tails installed on
Nov. 28 were designed and manufactured by BAE Systems in Samlesbury,
England. Assemblers installed the aircraft's weapons-bay doors on Dec. 7.
Final assembly began in May, when workers mated the Northrop

Grumman-produced center fuselage to the Lockheed Martin-built wing at the
F-35's final assembly operation in Fort Worth. The BAE Systems-produced aft
fuselage and the Lockheed Martin forward fuselage were also joined to the
overall aircraft assembly earlier in the year. Technicians switched on
electrical power to the aircraft for the first time on Sept. 7.

Pratt & Whitney will deliver the aircraft's F135 engine before the end of
December. The power plant, which produces 40,000 pounds of thrust, will make
the F-35 the most powerful single-engine fighter ever to fly.

Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial
partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. Two separate, interchangeable
F-35 engines are under development: the Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan and
the F136 turbofan from the General Electric Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin employs about 135,000 people
worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development,
manufacture and integration of advanced technology systems, products and
services. The corporation reported 2004 sales of $35.5 billion.



HUGE photo www.lockheedmartin.com/data/assets/11524.jpg

Link Posted: 12/23/2005 11:08:20 AM EDT
Looking good! I will feel much better however by the time we have about 1000 of them in service and mission ready.
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