The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which has been in the works since 1996 and first flew more than 10 years ago, made its first public flight demo on Monday afternoon, at the Paris Air Show. Lockheed Martin pilot Billie Flynn told Aviation Week, “We are going to crush years of misinformation about what this aircraft is capable of doing.” The fully acrobatic flight demo aimed to wow the critics, with a full-power takeoff, steep climbs and a squared-off loop. (You can watch the full six minutes in Lockheed’s video, posted below.)
The critics have had a lot to work with — U.S. military pilots have complained about problems with the oxygen system, fuel system and ejection seat; delays and cost overruns have plagued the program; and the complicated onboard computer systems have been unreliable. Will the flight demo change all that? According to a Reuters story on Monday, Lockheed Martin is in the final stages of negotiating a deal worth more than $37 billion to sell a record 440 of the F-35 fighter jets to the U.S. and 10 of its allies. That would be the biggest deal yet for the airplane. The jets go for about $85 million each, Reuters said.