The first Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) F-35A successfully completed its maiden flight in Fort Worth, Texas on 24th August. The aircraft, designated AX-1, took off at 11:12 and landed at 12:46 local time. The flight was piloted by Lockheed Martin’s F-35 test pilot Paul Hattendorf.
Japan is on record to purchase 42 F-35A Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) aircraft, acquired through the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales programme. The first four aircraft are in assembly in Fort Worth and are scheduled to be delivered before the end of 2016.
The remaining 38 aircraft will be assembled at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries final assembly & check-out facility in Nagoya, Japan. Aircraft assembly is also underway at the Nagoya facility. Maintenance training for the first Japan maintainers has already begun at Eglin AFB, Florida, and training of the first JASDF F-35 pilots will begin at Luke AFB, Arizona, in November 2016.
The U.S. Air Force declared the F-35A “combat ready“ on 2nd August.