Lockheed Martin test pilot Dan Canin flew the 12th “weight-optimized” F-35 Lightning II test airframe on May 21, completing the allotted trials batch. CF-3, the third of the F-35C carrier versions, is now undergoing initial trials before joining two other F-35Cs and four F-35B STOVL test aircraft at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., later this year.
F-4 Phantom II
The Republic of Korea Air Force brought an era to an end when on June 16 it conducted the last flights of its McDonnell F-4D Phantom IIs. These veterans had served for 41 years, and were the last of the early model Phantoms in service anywhere in the world.
For many years the U.S. Air Force has operated a fleet of surplus Phantom IIs as QF-4s in the full-scale aerial target role (FSAT). Under projected usage rates, that fleet will be consumed within the next few years. Now, the Air Force has taken the first step to providing a replacement. Not surprisingly, the type chosen is the Lockheed Martin F-16, the older variants of which are entering the boneyard in some numbers.
Japan’s Defense Ministry is preparing to select the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to replace its aging F-4EJ feet. The plan to about acquire 40 F-35s, estimated to cost about ¥9 billion (US$91 million) each, is likely to be included in new defense policy guidelines to be adopted this month.