pLockheed Martin Corp. showed off the vertical takeoff version of its next military aircraft on Tuesday to an important customer — the U.S. Marine Corps./p pAs designed, the joint strike fighter would give the Marines something they’ve never had: a stealthy supersonic fighter capable of helicopter-like takeoffs and landings./p pMarine Commandant Gen. James T. Conway said the plane would allow his pilots to control the skies, drop bombs and take out enemy missiles in battlegrounds like those in Iraq./p pDozens of Marine officers and foreign military officials attended a pomp-filled ceremony inside Lockheed’s giant aircraft-assembly plant to mark the rollout of the F-35B. A Marine band played martial music, and assembly workers paused to watch from scaffolding./p pA simpler model that can’t take off vertically is being tested for the Air Force./p pThe development of the joint strike fighter has been bumpy at times. Lockheed began a costly redesign three years ago after officials found that the plane was going to be too heavy. More recently, one of the test planes was grounded for several months./p p”Every new aircraft has its warts, and there will be delays,” Conway said, but he expressed confidence that Lockheed will deliver the first F-35s to the Corps on time in 2012./p pThe Air Force is scheduled to get its first copies the next year, followed by the Navy’s aircraft carrier version in 2015./p
Lockheed shows off new fighter plane
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