Bloomberg News

Pentagon Says Marine F-35 Model Successful in First Sea Trials

October 24, 2011

Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- The first sea trials of the Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter model designed for the Marine Corps were successfully completed last week, the program office said today.

The F-35B short-take off and vertical landing version finished three weeks of tests on the Marine amphibious assault ship USS Wasp, achieving “all planned flight envelope test points,” Joseph DellaVedova, a spokesman for the Joint Strike Fighter program, said in an e-mail. “We’ve been pleased with the initial sea trials” and the aircraft “performed to predictions.”

Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor, is seeking to improve its F-35 jet development work to earn as much as $52.5 million in performance fees this year by meeting five goals. One of them was demonstrating ship operations of the Marine variant. Last year, Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed forfeited $28 million out of $35 million because it failed to meet targets.

At a potential cost of $382 billion, the F-35 is the Pentagon’s largest-ever weapons program and is intended to deliver about 3,000 airplanes to the U.S. military services and nine international partners. In January, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates put the F-35 Marine variant on probation for two years to give the company time to demonstrate the plane’s reliability.

United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney unit makes the power plant for the single-engine F-35 jet.

DellaVedova said the program office planned a media session this month to more fully explain the test results.

--Editors: Terry Atlas, Bob Drummond

To contact the reporters on this story: Gopal Ratnam in Washington at gratnam1@bloomberg.net. Tony Capaccio in Washington at acapaccio@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at Msilva34@bloomberg.net


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