First F-35 with tails from Down Under

An F-35A Lightning II aircraft known as AF-73, rolled out of Lockheed Martin’s  facility in Fort Worth recently. The jet has the distinction of being the first to be fitted with a set of vertical tails manufactured by the Australian company Marand.

According to Lockheed Martin, the completion of AF-73 demonstrates the significant industrial benefits the F-35 program brings to the international aerospace industry.  The work on the F-35 vertical tails is contracted to Marand by BAE Systems. This is one of the largest manufacturing projects for the Australian F-35 program, with 722 ship sets planned.

AF-73 will undergo a series of tests and engine runs prior to its first flight scheduled for late May.  The aircraft will join the F-35 fleet later this year at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

The F-35 Lightning II aircraft will provide the Royal Australian Air Force with a transformational 5th generation fighter capability and provides significant benefits to the Australian aerospace industry, with more than $413 million (USD) already contracted.

Source: Lockheed Martin
Featured image (top): Aussie tails on this F-35A.  (Image © Lockheed Martin)