Following an intense four-year competition, the U.S. Department
of Defense on 26 October 2001, named the Lockheed Martin lead
Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) team as the winner of the contract
to develop the F-35 Lightning II. The F-35 team immediately entered
the program’s 10-year System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase.
The SDD period involves the development
and testing of the entire aircraft system, including its manufacture.
During SDD, the team will build a total of 22 test aircraft.
Fourteen will undergo flight-testing, seven will be used for
non-airborne test activities, and one will be used to evaluate
the F-35’s radar signature.
Nine nations are partnering in the F-35’s
SDD phase: The United States, United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands,
Turkey, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Australia. Partnership
in SDD entitles those countries to bid for work on a best
value basis, and participate in the aircraft’s development.
Additionally, Israel and Singapore have agreed to join the
program as a Security Cooperation Participants.
Lockheed Martin is the F-35 prime contractor,
while Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems are principal partners
in the project.
Final assembly of the F-35 takes place
at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Fort Worth, Texas.
Northrop Grumman Corporation in Palmdale and El Segundo, California
will manufacture the center-fuselage, and the aft fuselage
and tails will be manufactured by BAE Systems in Samlesbury,
England. Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth will manufacture the
forward fuselage and wings.
Flight-testing will be conducted at Fort
Worth, Edwards Air Force Base, and Naval Air Station Patuxent
River. Additionally, the STOVL and CV variants will undergo
sea trials aboard American, British and Italian aircraft carriers.