(All images by JSF.mil, reproduced with permission)
In November 2003, the first component of the first F-35 Joint Strike Fighter prototype was manufactured, heralding a new generation of cutting-edge military fighter aircraft. Almost a decade later, the development programme remains ongoing, hampered by cost overruns and complex technical challenges.
Departing temporarily from aircraft graveyards, buried stealth planes and crashed wartime bombers, among other military-related topics, we’ve decided to bring you some images from the front of the line rather than the end of it – in this case, the F-35 production line in Fort Worth, Texas. This photo essay shows the first pre-production ‘Lightning II’, an F-35A model, as it progresses from early assembly to roll-out. (See also Lockheed’s X-35 and Boeing’s X-32 technology demonstrators at Patuxent River, Maryland.)
If you enjoyed this photo essay from the ‘front of the line’, check out these less fortunate airframes at the end of the line, and visit an abandoned military airbase (Johnston Atoll) in the middle of the Pacific. For more, explore the thumbnails below and be sure to visit our favourite new site, Tech Graffiti.