First F-35A with Australian Made Vertical Tails Takes Flight

July 23, 2015

A Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II, known as AF-73, took to the skies  July 17, marking the first flight by an F-35 possessing two vertical tails manufactured by the Australian-based engineering company Marand. Lockheed Martin Chief Test Pilot Alan Norman, flew the sortie lasting 84 minutes.

“The first flight of this particular F-35A marks a monumental achievement for Marand and our dedicated employees,” said Marand Chief Executive Officer Rohan Stocker. “It has been an incredible journey from the point where we initially bid for this work with BAE Systems to witnessing the reality of our vertical tails being an integral part of the F-35. This is a great moment, and we look forward to continuing to build our future as a global supplier to the F-35 program as well as to other advanced manufacturing opportunities in Australia.” 

The first flight of AF-73 is an important milestone for Marand, BAE Systems and Australia, demonstrating the significant industrial benefits the F-35 program brings to the growing Australian aerospace industry. The F-35 vertical tails work is contracted to Marand by BAE Systems. This is one of the largest manufacturing projects for the Australian F-35 program, with 722 ship sets planned.

The F-35 Lightning II aircraft will provide the Royal Australian Air Force with a transformational 5th generation fighter capability and provides significant benefits to the Australian aerospace industry, with more than $482 million (USD) already contracted. 

AF-73 will join the U.S. Air Force F-35A fleet later this year at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.