The first Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) F-35A has completed its maiden flight last week.
The jet, known as AX-1, took off at 11:12am and landed at 12:46pm 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 US government’s Foreign Military Sales program.
The first four aircraft are in assembly in Fort Worth and are anticipated to be delivered before the end of 2016. Aug. 24, 2016, Lockheed Martin announced Friday.
Designated AX-1, this aircraft will be followed by three others to be delivered by year-end.
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.