WASHINGTON, the United States (BulgarianMilitary.com) – The F-35 Joint Program Office announced on 6th December 2018 that Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II has started IOT&E (Initial Operational Test and Evaluation) under the supervision of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), learned BulgarianMilitary.com
The Initial Operational Test and Evaluation process will assess the suitability, effectiveness, lethality, survivability and overall mission capability of the aircraft as reported by the F-35 Joint Program Office.
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The F-35 Lightning II of Lockheed Martin is a family of single-seat, single-engined, all-weather stealth multirole fighters. The fifth-generation combat aircraft is developed for ground-attack and air-superiority missions. Its main models are three: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier-based catapult-assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) variant.
All three versions of the F-35 will be field tested under realistic combat conditions in late summer next year. This is needed for determining the operational effectiveness and suitability of the stealth fighter for combat.
“The F-35 enterprise will work together to understand and holistically address any findings. Following the evaluation and the DOT&E report provided to Congress, the US Government will have data to inform its ‘Milestone C’ decision, leading to formal entry into full rate production,” commented from the Joint Program Office.
The plans of the Pentagon include the purchase of some 2,456 copies of the F-35. But before that, the IOT&E shall be completed in order the Department of Defense to be legally allowed to start full-rate production for acquiring the F-35 in large batches. When a full-rate production is started it would guarantee multi-year orders to Lockheed Martin.
It shall be reminded that in November Lockheed Martin won a $22.7 billion contract from the Joint Program Office to deliver 255 F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters to the three branches of the U.S. armed services and international operators.
More than 340 F-35s are already operating from 15 bases all over the world, for the U.S. military branches and international partner nations. The U.S. Marine Corps’ F-35B also made its combat debut in September this year in Afghanistan.
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Source: FlightGlobal, Defense News, Wikipedia