Four Lockheed Martin F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft were officially turned over to the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center at Nellis Air Force Base this week. The CTOL jets, the variant Canad is considering for its CF-18 replacement program, were assigned to the 422 Test and Evaluation Squadron of the 53rd Test and Evaluation Group.

The delivery marks the beginning of operational testing and evaluation at the base. To date, 24 CTOL aircraft have been delivered to the Air Force and 58 aircraft to the Department of Defense.

The 422nd TES is a composite squadron that executes Operational Test & Evaluation for the F-35. The squadron conducts tactics development, foreign materiel exploitation, and special access programs to optimize system combat capability. By 2019, a total of 12 F-35As will be assigned to the base for testing and evaluation.