WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 fighter jet is on track to meet the Marine Corps's July target to declare the jet ready for combat use, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Thursday.
The F-35 B-model, which can take off from shorter runways and land like a helicopter, was making good progress, Mabus told reporters after a speech at the annual conference of the Surface Navy Association. He said he expected it to meet the Marine Corps's target date.
He said the Navy still expected to declare the F-35 C-model, which is designed for use on aircraft carriers, ready for combat use by the end of the decade, as planned. The Navy tested the F-35C on board a ship for the first time last November.
The Navy had more time before it needed to declare the plane ready for combat use, but remained committed to that part of the F-35 program as well, Mabus said.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by James Dalgleish)