To residents of Florida’s Gulf Coast, the Joint Strike Fighter says “Won’t you be my neighbor?”
- By Richard P. Hallion
- AirSpaceMag.com, April 24, 2009
USAF / Airman Anthony Jennings
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With a $40 million price tag (in FY 2002 dollars), the F-35 isn’t cheap, but the capabilities it brings to any future conflict (in an uncertain world characterized by advanced SAMs, radars, and fighters that already render much of America’s joint-service fighter force obsolescent) make it a good partner for its bigger air dominance brother (and Lockheed Martin stablemate), the F-22A Raptor.
The Air Force and Lockheed Martin had originally planned to fly AA-1 to Eglin on Tuesday, April 21, but, new airplanes being what they are, shortly before its departure (as Lockheed Martin F-35 communications director Christian “Chris” Geisel dutifully reported), the plane’s built-in self test system (known as “BITS” in the purposeful jargon-speak of aerospace engineers) “showed an anomaly in the flight control system.” (“The [BITS] system is very conservative,” he confided). Prudence dictated a precautionary delay to check out the plane, and so it arrived a day later, making up for any embarrassment by landing “Code One”: in short, in perfect operating condition.
Richard P. Hallion, former Air Force historian, is an Air & Space contributing editor.