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Lockheed Unveils New Fighter Jet
Military.com  |  July 07, 2006
FORT WORTH, Texas - Lookheed Martin Corp. on Friday unveiled its new military fighter plane, a jet which the company touts as the most powerful single-engine fighter ever built.

The fighter - named Lightening II - is designed to replace the F-16 and other fighter planes currently used by the American and British militaries. It is scheduled to begin test flights in October and be deployed for use by the Marine Corps in 2012. The Air Force and Navy are scheduled to use them by 2013 and the British forces, in 2014.

Lockheed Martin, which won a $19 billion contract from the Pentagon in 2001, says the jets are expected to cost $45 million to $60 million (euro47 million) apiece.

The company hopes to sell more than 2,500 of the fighters to the U.S. and U.K. militaries and hundreds more to eight allies who have been given subcontracting work on the plane. Those countries are Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway.

The Pentagon picked Lockheed and subcontractors Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems over a team led by Boeing Co. in 2001.

Parts of the fuselage are being built in Fort Worth, Texas; Palmdale, California; and in England, with final assembly in Fort Worth. The first plane was completed in February and has been undergoing testing in the hangar before test flights begin in October.

After conventional takeoff and landing this fall, the plane is scheduled to try short takeoff and vertical landing by early 2008. A carrier version is expected to be ready for testing by 2009.

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