Tuesday, March 25, 2014

F-35 may go to Farnborough, RAIT

WASHINGTON -- The Defense Department is set to approve the first trans-Atlantic flight of the F-35 fighter jet in July when the warplane is expected to take part in two international air shows near London. Multiple sources say Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is close to a decision that would allow two or three F-35s to fly at the Royal International Air Tattoo, or RIAT, an annual military air show, and the Farnborough air show held every two years. Britain, which contributed $2 billion to the F-35 development and plans to buy 138 F-35s in coming years, asked for the jet's participation to help showcase the increasing maturity of the new radar-evading plane. Participating in the international air shows will allow the F-35 program to carry out additional training and learn how the plane's logistics, maintenance, aerial refueling, and security systems work overseas, the sources said. Lockheed is the main contractor, with Northrop Grumman and Britain's BAE Systems the biggest suppliers. Pratt & Whitney builds the engine that powers the plane, and Rolls Royce Group builds the lift fan that enables the B-model of the F-35 to land like a helicopter. (Source: Reuters, 03/25/14) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.