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Seventh F-35 fighter aircraft begins flight test

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The seventh F-35 Lightning II aircraft, AF-2, takes off from the from the Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base. A Lockheed Martin Photo

FORT WORTH (BNS): An F-35A fighter became the seventh F-35 Lightning II aircraft to begin test flight here to validate its weapons suite.

Lockheed Martin-designed F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant of the fifth generation F-35 Lightning II aircraft took to the skies from the Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base and flew for 1 hour.

The new fighter, known as AF-2, will validate the F-35A variantís weapons suite. It will be used to verify the F-35Aís ability to carry both internal and external weapons throughout the required flight envelope, Lockheed said.

The aircraft is also the first to be armed with a four-barrel Gatling gun which can fire at a rate of 3,000 rounds per minute.

The F-35A CTOL has been designed for the US Air Force.

The F-35 is a fifth-generation multi-role stealth combat aircraft capable of performing close air support, tactical bombing and air defence missions. It is being designed to replace the existing fleet of fighter aircraft of nine partnering countries.

Lockheed Martin is building the fighter with its main industrial partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.

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