It looks like the first quarter of 2011 was a good one for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter test program, with the plane logging 57 more test flights than the planned 142, even in the face of a fleet-wide grounding last month, according to Lockheed officials.
Interestingly, it was the Air Force's F-35A conventional variant and the Marine Corps' F-35B short take-off and vertical landing variant that did much of the heavy lifting in achieving the 199 test flights last quarter.
The F-35As flew 82 times against a plan of 62 flights while the F-35Bs flew 101 flights against a plan of 62 sorties. Heck, the embattled Bravo performed 61 vertical landings last quarter. Compare that to the 10 vertical landings it performed in all of 2010!
Meanwhile, the Navy's F-35C carrier variant racked up only 16 out of 18 planned flights for the quarter, according to Lockheed. No information was provided as to why the Cs missed their targets.
Two production model F-35As also took to the skies for a total of seven flights in 2011.
All told, the F-35 now has 753 flights under its belt since 2006, according to Lockheed.