Friday, January 30, 2009


The leaders of the Freedom Walk Community Development District show their support for the Joint Striker Fighter Mission. This show a support is just another step in the committment Emerald Coast Partners, the Developer of Freedom Walk, and the Board of Supervisors have in letting the community know they are beyond the military values our Armed Forces display on a day to day basis. GO TEAM EGLIN.


Freedom Walk announces support for Joint Strike Fighter mission

The Freedom Walk Community Development announced its unanimous support for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Integration Training Center at Eglin AFB with an adoption of resolution 2009-01.

Resolution 2009-01
A resolution of the Board of Supervisors of Freedom Walk Community Development District, welcomes and supports the incorporation and bed-down of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter integration training center at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida
Whereas, Freedom Walk Community Development District (hereinafter the “District”) is a local unit of special-purpose government created and existing pursuant to Chapter 190, Florida Statutes, being situated entirely within the City of Crestview, Okaloosa County, Florida; and
Whereas, the District’s Board of Supervisors (hereinafter the “Board”) is statutorily authorized to exercise the powers granted to the District.
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Board of Supervisors of Freedom Walk Community Development District:
Section 1. Intent
The Board welcomes and supports the incorporation and bed-down of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Integration Training Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
a. Air power is a vital part of America’s Military arsenal.
b. The current fighter fleet is aging and is being replaced as required for our national security.
c. The Joint Strike Fighter, called F-35 Lightning II, represents a quantum leap in capability to the Department of Defense and our international partners, providing precision engagement and global attack for our Air Forces.
d. Eglin Air Force Base’s Test and Training Complex is a national resource with world-class capabilities and the capacity to absorb new missions.
Section 2. Purpose
a. Eglin Air Force Base was selected by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process as the optimum mission location and most cost effective solution for establishing a Joint Integrated Training Center for the bed-down of the F-35.
b. The F-35 mission at Eglin Air Force Base will ensure America’s air dominance and Eglin Air Force’s sustainability in the strategic defense of our country.
c. The Board welcomes and supports the incorporation and bed-down of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Integration Training Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, and is committed to working with Eglin Air Force Base for resolution of compatibility issues associated with this mission.
Section 3. Effective Date
This Resolution shall become effective immediately upon its adoption.
Passed and adopted this 12th day of January, 2009.

The Freedom Walk Community Development District is an approximately 180-acre mixed-use development in Crestview, less than a quarter-mile from Crestview High School and Davidson Middle School. The Freedom Walk Board of Supervisors consists of Bruce Houle (Chairman of the Board, the Managing Partner of Emerald Coast Partners), Ken Wright (Vice Chairman of the Board, a Niceville native, retired military officer, local real estate professional and Vice President of the Northwest Florida Military Officers Association), James Moore (Board Supervisor, a Crestview native and an attorney), Bob Lynn (Board Supervisor, a retired Crestview educator and civic leader) and Randy Wise (Board Supervisor, a Niceville native, real estate developer and homebuilders).

Thursday, January 29, 2009


It is refreshing to see the City of Fort Walton Beach making an investment into the Historic Downtown District. This investment is just one of many being planned to improve the commercial attraction of this area and bring more people to this part town, which means more dollars to the City of Fort Walton Beach.

Despite the inconvenience, business owners in downtown Fort Walton Beach say the new streetscape will be worth it
By MONA MOORE Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4443

FORTWALTONBEACH—Walking along Miracle Strip Parkway isn’t easy these days. Work on the downtown sidewalks has pedestrians weaving through flower beds, dodging traffic and using businesses’ back doors whenever possible. Front-door access was precarious recently for Navarre resident Sandra Colapreto. “For someone with a cane, this is really bad,” she said. Colapreto doubted patrons in wheelchairs could maneuver to get to Unwind, the yarn shop she visited. “They’d have to wheel them on the street,” she said. “We come in from Navarre once or twice a week,” Colapreto said. “If I could come in less, I would.” But shop owners say they can live with a little inconvenience for the heavy dose of progress that comes with it. At Maas Coffee Roasters, employee Ed Noone credited a drop in business to the work outside. “While the construction is going on, I would say business is off 20 to 25 percent but I think it will be worth it,” he said. “You have to suffer through this to get to the other end. It’s going to make the downtown area a lot nicer than what it was.” Other business owners also praised of the project. “This is, for a lot of people, the first impression of Fort Walton,” said Michelle Murphy, co-owner of Coach and Four Gifts. “As a main thoroughfare, we have to put our best foot forward.” “It’s absolutely wonderful because progress is fantastic,” added Debbie Fisher. Fisher’s downtown law office shares a garden with Maas Coffee Roasters and the Frances Pryor Memorial Camellia Garden. Like the new street improvements, the garden was built to encourage more foot traffic and improve downtown’s image. “This is the city park. We worked with the city to make it a garden, to make it more pedestrian-friendly,” said Fisher, pointing to the Pryor Garden as she walked along the connecting path. “We’re invested in downtown. (With this new project) it’s nice to see everybody else is.” Work along Miracle Strip includes replacing Bradford pear trees with sabal palms, laying decorative pavers and installing new lighting. Some downtown business owners also have opted to lay pavers in front of their stores to match the work being done on the right of way. “I think it all works together, unifying the area. It gives it a sense of destination,” said Bobby Nabors, owner of Liquid Surf and Sail. Many business owners said the greatest benefit will be the ability to see the shops from the street. “When people pass through, they’ll see there are viable businesses down here,” said Murphy. She was impressed with the progress of the project. The work that started last week with the removal of Bradford pears continued this week with the planting of the palms and routing for new light posts. “I’ve told (the construction workers) every day what an awesome job they’re doing,” Murphy said. “I think they have tried to make our discomfort as small as possible.” She said the changes were long overdue. “Those Bradford pear trees were only supposed to be here for five years because they knew they’d get too big,” Murphy said. The pear trees were planted in the early 1990s. City staffers have been working on the replacement plan since late 2002, when a downtown property owner complained that one of the trees had grown to block her tenant’s business sign. “They got so huge. You saw buildings but could not make out what they were,” Murphy said. The trees bloomed four times a year and littered streets with the foliage. “That’s an alleluia for me,” Murphy said. “I think it always made it seem like it was unkempt.” Murphy has heard complaints from patrons. Once she shared her problems with the trees, Murphy said the customers understood and agreed with business owners. “I think part of people’s perception or negativity is because they’re not informed,” she said. “I’m really excited to see it. We needed a facelift,” said Ellen Nixon, who owns Unwind. “And the inconvenience is only going to be a few days.” Just outside her front door, a 20-something man tripped over the curb as he tried to navigate through the construction area and watch the activity inside the small shop at the same time. “We’ve been here so long, most people know our back door. I like to think of our back-door customers as our best customers,” Murphy said. “There’s never been a point where people couldn’t use our front door.” “I think it’s worth a little inconvenience for a week or two,” said Niceville resident Leslie Frank. She came early to Unwind for the morning “sit-andstitch” session. Nixon said the store was packed for the event. Despite the construction, customers continued to pour across the piece of wood that replaced her front sidewalk. “Apparently, customers are hot for construction workers,” laughed Unwind employee Ginny Petersen. “That’s another plus,” Nixon said, joining the table of knitters in a laugh.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Florida’s existing home, condo sales rise in December 2008
Related Story:
Existing-home sales show strong gain in December, says NAR

ORLANDO, Fla. – Jan. 26, 2009 – Florida’s existing home sales rose in December, making it the fourth consecutive month that sales activity demonstrated gains in the year-to-year comparison, according to the latest housing data released by the Florida Association of Realtors® (FAR). December’s statewide sales also increased over November’s figures in both the existing home and existing condo markets.Existing home sales rose 27 percent last month with a total of 11,053 homes sold statewide compared to 8,712 homes sold in December 2007, according to FAR. December’s statewide existing home sales were 28.9 percent higher than November’s statewide sales.Florida Realtors also reported a 12 percent gain in statewide sales of existing condominiums in December, marking the third recent month (following September and October) for higher statewide existing home and existing condo sales compared to year-ago levels. Statewide existing condo sales last month increased 37.7 percent over the total units sold in November.Sixteen of Florida’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported increased existing-home sales in December; 11 MSAs also showed gains in condo sales, marking the sixth month in a row that a number of markets have reported increased sales activity.Florida’s median sales price for existing homes last month was $155,500; a year ago, it was $213,600 for a 27 percent decrease. According to industry analysts with the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), there remains a significant downward distortion in the current median price due to many discounted sales, including a large number of foreclosures. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. The national median sales price for existing single-family homes in November 2008 was $180,800, down 12.8 percent from a year earlier, according to NAR. In California, the statewide median resales price was $285,680 in November; in Massachusetts, it was $283,000; in Maryland, it was $262,109; and in New York, it was $210,000.While overall sales have softened nationally in recent months, NAR’s latest housing outlook noted a trend of increasing activity in Florida, California, Arizona and Nevada markets. “Sales are rising in areas with large numbers of distressed properties as bargain hunters take advantage of discounted home prices,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “It is imperative to provide incentives for homebuyers to get back into the market. It also depends on how effectively Congress and the new administration can help facilitate the short sales process and unclog the mortgage pipeline – impediments remain for some buyers with good credit.”In Florida’s year-to-year comparison for condos, 3,138 units sold statewide compared to 2,814 sold in December 2007 for a 12 percent increase. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $130,600; in December 2007 it was $192,600 for a 32 percent decrease. In the latest data available at press time, NAR reported the national median existing condo price was $185,400 in November 2008.Last month, interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.29 percent, significantly lower than the average rate of 6.10 percent in December 2007, according to Freddie Mac. FAR’s sales figures reflect closings, which typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written. Among the state’s large to medium-size markets, the West Palm Beach-Boca Raton MSA reported a total of 638 homes sold in December compared to 467 homes a year ago for a 37 percent increase. The existing home median sales price was $246,000; a year ago, it was $337,900 for a 27 percent decrease. In the year-to-year comparison for the existing condo market, a total of 527 units sold in the MSA last month, up 26 percent compared to 419 condos sold the previous December. The market’s existing condo median price was $112,900; a year ago, it was $161,400 for a 30 percent decrease.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


This connection, which will be located near the Northwest Florida Regional Airport, will make it that much easier for the Northern County residents to enjoy the South part of the County.

Officials lobby for overpass for SR 123
By DUSTY RICKETTS Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448 After years of delays, there finally is some hope that the proposed overpass at the southern intersection of State Roads 85 and 123 could become a reality. The Florida Department of Transportation has had plans for a flyover ramp to connect SR 85 to northbound SR 123 for years. The flyover would reconfigure the congested intersection and eliminate the need for a traffic signal there. The estimated $30.6 million project has been delayed numerous times because of the cost. “The intent is to free up the traffic at that intersection by providing a flyover and some at-grade improvements,” said Tommie Speights, spokesman for the DOT’s Northwest Florida district. “The design on that is not complete.” In 2001, construction was scheduled to begin in fiscal 2007. However, the DOT has delayed the project three times since then. Most recently, Okaloosa County officials were notified in December that the project had been pushed back again from fiscal 2012 to fiscal 2013. Rather than accepting another delay, the Okaloosa-Walton Transportation Planning Organization met with DOT officials and the overpass has been added to the list of projects proposed by the state to be funded by the federal economic stimulus program. Okaloosa County commissioners will write letters to their state and federal legislators seeking help to get the overpass approved. Commissioners hope the project will start before 2013. “The plans are being updated to current standards in anticipation of potential funding from the economic stimulus package,” Speights said. “The plans will be ready for bid advertisement within a month should funding become available.”


As I have noted in previous weeks, the Planned Military Resort on Okaloosa Island is alive and well. Many thanks to the Military Officer's Association is making it known that this parcel of land would be a great place for our service men and women from around the country to spend time with their families after the many deployments being placed on them. Also, this will draw all military, active, retired and reservist, to this area to enjoy the many things it has to offer. As I have mentioned before, there is more more on the horizon coming to our area.

Eglin: Build Air Force resort on Okaloosa Island
Andrew Gant
January 22, 2009 - 4:45PM

OKALOOSA ISLAND - Eglin Air Force Base officials say their piece of valuable beachfront property here is "underutilized," but a 17-acre military resort on it "could provide a steady income stream."
In a pair of drafts released Wednesday, the Air Force presented its Emerald Breeze Resort proposal as the best possible use for Test Site A-5, a long-coveted but mostly bare parcel next to the Four Points By Sheraton hotel on Okaloosa Island.
"The resort is expected to be a commercial hotel that caters to the military but is open to the public," Mike Spaits, spokesman for Eglin's 96th Air Base Wing, said in a press release.
The A-5 property has about 600 feet of shoreline on the Gulf of Mexico, bookended by resorts. All that stands behind its fences today is an access road leading to a small storage building with antennae and other utilities - which are only "occasionally used to support test missions," the Air Force said in a 180-page environmental assessment.
But the military imagines a 250-room resort "similar in size and facilities" to the rest of the properties along U.S. Highway 98, including parking, restaurants, bars, swimming pools and some shopping. Alternative energy and other green features would be required "wherever feasible," according to the Air Force's plan.
It has been an interesting several years for Test Site A-5.
As part of the Air Force's 215-acre "Dunes Parcel" - previously valued at $730 million - the test site was once rumored to be part of a proposed land swap between the Air Force and Niceville developer Stephen Alford. For his part, Alford offered acreage in Taylor County for a missile and bomb test range for Eglin. In return, Eglin's beach land would be open for development.
But Alford defrauded investors in the deal, taking an estimated $12 million even though there was no swap. He's since been sentenced to federal prison.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller introduced legislation to require all of Eglin's "surplus" beach property to fall under protection as part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. There would be no more talk of swapping.
For Eglin, the resort idea followed.
"Most of the rooms at the resort will be for public use, with a select number of room blocks dedicated for DOD and USAF personnel," according to a "Finding of No Significant Impact" drafted by the Air Force. Part of the rooftop would be secured and reserved for military receivers, sensor equipment and offices to keep A-5 operational.
Under the proposal, the Air Force would contract with a private developer to build and run the resort. Similar military lodges exist at Walt Disney World in Orlando, on Waikiki in Hawaii and in the German Alps.
Eglin officials say no Environmental Impact Statement was necessary because any potential harm to the beach would be minor. Eglin did release summaries of its environmental studies.
Construction could affect essential sand dunes. The Air Force said a restoration plan must be approved in case the dune system is degraded.
The project also must account for existing wetlands and areas where sea turtles hatch.
Spaits said the Air Force will accept public comments on the proposal until March 12. The documents are available here, at or at libraries in Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Navarre and Crestview.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


It looks like some of our favorite investors are starting to see lower property tax bills this year. This along with them finding the Panhandle of Florida, lower interest rates, and new insurance carriers entering the Florida market place should make 2009 an interesting year. So keep your eye on the ball and don't forget to get your market update from the "Trust Platinum Blog".

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. – Jan. 21, 2009 – Florida snowbirds, so long left out in the cold when it comes to lower taxes, may find their property tax bills falling this year – along with real estate market values.“The people with the biggest break this year will be non-homesteaded property owners whose values dropped,” said Dale Friedley, a tax analyst with the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s Office.“In most cases those values are dropping between 8 and 15 percent. If their values went down 10 percent and millage is the same, they’ll save 10 percent, compared to last year’s bill,” Friedley added.About 95 percent of Manatee nonhomesteaders will likely pay less on their tax bills this year, Friedley estimated, assuming that the millage rates stay the same.About 78 percent of homesteaded owners saw actual savings last year on their tax assessments, though maybe not as much as they would have liked.A state rule passed in 1995 requires assessed property values to grow by 3 percent or by the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less, as long as the property’s market value doesn’t dip below the assessed value.That means even homeowners whose property’s market value dropped over the past year might see lower savings or even a slight increase in their taxes, he said, adding that’s especially true for valuable homes.“Generally, if you’re just looking at your tax bill, this will probably be the first good year for snowbirds in awhile,” said Kurt Wenner, director of tax research for Florida TaxWatch, a nonprofit research foundation.“Snowbirds are probably going to see a reduction in their taxes, or at least are not going to grow at the rate they’ve been growing,” he added. “The tax shift occurred over the last 15 years, it might be a little shifted back this year.”“This could be the first year where people under Save Our Homes taxes go up, and people with non-homestead properties go down,” said Wenner.Still, it all depends upon what local government decides when it comes to setting millage rates, Wenner emphasized. The higher the amount of revenue government requires, the more taxpayers can expect to pay, he noted.Voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 1 last year. It effectively doubled the homestead exemption on nonschool taxes for primary homeowners to $50,000; made the Save Our Homes tax protection more portable; and created a $25,000 tax break on tangible personal property for businesses. Amendment 1 also placed a 10 percent cap on yearly increases in assessments for nonhomesteaded properties, saving snowbirds from the astronomical tax increases they’d seen in years past.However, the 10 percent cap this year may seem irrelevant to snowbirds, since values for most of them are dropping.Copyright © 2009 The Bradenton Herald, Fla., Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


WASHINGTON – Jan. 20, 2009 – Today’s home buyers are asking for more green features as a means of lowering costs, becoming more environmentally friendly, and adopting a healthier lifestyle.“Green features are becoming one of the top three priorities, after price and location,” says Joseph Himali, Washington’s Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors Board of Directors president.Green features focus on energy efficiency, water efficiency, resource efficiency and indoor air quality and include such elements as Energy Star appliances, low-flow shower heads, carpets and paint with low volatile organic compounds, and building materials procured from local suppliers.The average green buyer will shell out $12,400 – on average – for green features, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) green-building standards program manager Kevin Morrow expects the market share of green-certified homes to rise to 20 percent in 2010 from about 10 percent in 2009 and 2 percent in 2006.Tax credits and other financial incentives, coupled with green certifications, makes it easier for buyers, builders, and real estate professionals to go green.Source: Washington Times, Lisa Rauschart (01/09/09)

Friday, January 16, 2009


We are no longer a secret. The USA Today has let the cat out of the bag. The place to buy that second home is in our backyard. With the Baby Boomer generation coming of age and ready to move south to our beautiful beaches and hometown community values, our area will be full with folks from around the country sharing the news to their family and friends. Are we ready? By the way, the military has also determined this is a place for their missions and families to call their home.

WALTON COUNTY, Fla. – Jan. 16, 2009 – Unlike densely populated South Florida or theme-park epicenter Orlando, the western panhandle of Florida has no big cities, and trendy nightclubs are few and far between. The region is not exactly sleepy, with plenty of golf courses and resort developments, but for many years it hasn’t drawn much attention from second-home buyers beyond nearby Louisiana, Texas and Alabama.Not so any longer. Attracted by some of the best values in Florida (not to mention some of the state’s most acclaimed beaches), buyers from all over the USA and Canada are heading to south Walton County. A new international airport scheduled for 2010 may bring them from even farther.The main selling point is sand, so soft and white locals call it “sugar sand.” The 26-mile stretch of coastline that constitutes the beaches of south Walton County has 14 towns or communities – including Seaside, the locale for the fictional picture-perfect town in the film The Truman Show. All 26 miles have been certified “Blue Wave Beaches,” an environmental seal of approval from the Clean Beaches Council.The entire strip is on a narrow peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay. More than 40 percent of the region is owned by the state and protected from development. There are numerous state parks and preserves, as well as an extensive network of protected sand dunes. All of it is linked by more than 200 miles of bicycle paths and hiking trails. But the landscape is not all nature: The strip has about a dozen golf courses.The 14 communities are each distinct – some gated, some not; some planned, some evolved. The best-known are Sandestin, Seaside, WaterSound and WaterColor. Among them, they contain an array of restaurants, art galleries, shops and recreational facilities. Most have a mix of houses, townhouses and condos. Prices also are diverse, from just over $100,000 to several million dollars.“Compared to south or central Florida, we have a huge variety of product with a large number of affordable homes,” says Joe Bracciale, director of real estate sales at Sandestin.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Okaloosa wooing WestJet
Canadian airline could fly snowbirds south for winter
By THOMAS J. MONIGAN Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4438

OKALOOSA ISLAND — Greg Donovan knew just when and where he wanted to let everybody know about his plans to get air service between Canada and the Emerald Coast. Donovan, Okaloosa County’s airports director, kicked off an initiative to land WestJet with an announcement at Friday’s eighth annual Senior Snowbird Expo. H e a d q u a r t e r e d i n Calgary, Alberta, WestJet would make direct flights from Toronto to Northwest Florida Regional Airport. Normally, setting up U.S. Customs inspections would be a major hurdle, but Donovan said that would be handled on the Canadian end of the proposed route. “We’ve identified this airline as a perfect fit,” Donovan said. “We have lots of people from Canada driving down here now. With this service they could fly down here, then go back to check on their house or for something like a medical situation, or they could have friends come visit them. “But we’ve got no historical data to present to WestJet to show them how much customer demand there might be,” he added. “That’s why we’re kicking off this campaign. If all goes well, we could be announcing new service with them at this event next year.” C a n a d i a n C a r o l y n Hall, who said she was retired from American Airlines, seemed more than interested. “We can fly here from Toronto on American now, but we have to go by way of Dallas,” Hall said. Joan Deering from London, Ontario, said she would be here from January through the middle of March. “I think it’s awesome,” Deering said. “I was so excited by the announcement.” Donovan said he and airport Business Development Manager Mike Stenson would wait until Monday to see how many hits their new Web site, www.wewantwest, had received. “Then the next step would be to integrate this into a formal presentation for chambers of commerce all along the Gulf Coast, even as far as Mobile (Ala.),” Donovan added. “And we’ll be looking to rally support from the hotels and resorts.”

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


The Northwest Florida Military Officers Association (NWFMOA) held an installation ceremony during its January general membership/breakfast meeting on 7 January at the Eglin Officers Club. Members elected to office for 2009 are W. D. “Bill” Van Hoesen – President, Kenneth M. Wright – Vice President, Scott W. Berry – Secretary, and William F. Ryan – Treasurer. In addition, the following individuals have assumed office as Directors: James Summitt, Robert Garcia, Charles Heifner, Karlynne Akos, and Robert Padden.
Lieutenant General (ret) LeRoy Manor conducted the ceremony and the Choctawhatchee High School Junior AFROTC Honor Guard posted the Colors.

NWFMOA is an affiliate of the Military Officers Association of America, the nation's largest and most influential association of military officers and is an independent, nonprofit, politically nonpartisan organization. The approximately 500 members of the NWFMOA participate in a monthly breakfast meeting, an annual Military Ball and are active in a number of military and civic programs to include a Scholarship Fund supported by donations and bequests from NWFMOA members, their spouses, and others. NWFMOA administers this program without deducting any operating expenses whatsoever from donations. 100% of contributions are used for loans and grants. Other projects in which NWFMOA members participate are the monthly newsletter, “The Defender,” Operation Homecoming, Fisher House, Army 7th Special Forces Transition Council and others.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


This is just another step in making Eglin AFB a premier multi-mission and multi-service base. It is quite evident this will be a tremendous asset to this area and bring economic prosperity for a long time to come in many facets.

F-35 production on target
Lockheed Martin says six of the jets are complete, 17 are in the works
By MONA MOORE Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4443

FORT WORTH, TEXAS — Lockheed Martin’s F-35 production is on schedule and nearing its goal of a 2010 delivery to Eglin Air Force Base. Last month, the makers of the new Joint Strike Fighter rolled out two more F-35s that are ready to be tested. “AF-1isaflight-testaircraft, and AG-1 is a ground-test aircraft. AF-1 will be dedicated to validating the F-35’s aerodynamic capabilities in flight,” John R. Kent, acting manager of F-35 Lightning II Communications at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., wrote in an e-mail. “AG-1 will not fly, but will be used to validate the F-35’s structural integrity in a fixture that bends and twists the airplane beyond its design limits,” Kent said. Six F-35s are complete, and 17 are in production. “The six completed aircraft include AG-1 and AF-1, and all of them are undergoing tests,” Kent wrote. The test aircrafts have completed 83 flights. “Thirteen of the 17 aircraft in production are preproduction test aircraft, and all of those will be finished in 2009,” Kent said. “The other four are the first productionmodel planes, and the first of those will be delivered in 2010 to the U.S. Air Force, and will go to Eglin.” The Air Force has ordered more than 1,700 F-35As. Called AF-1, it is structurally identical to the F-35B that will be flown by the Navy. Both aircraft will fly in the Joint Training School at Eglin. By 2015, the school will house 72 of the conventional takeoff and landing variant, 20 F-35B short takeoff vertical landing (STOVL) variants and 15 carrier variants (CV). The F-35 is a supersonic, multi-role, fifth-generation stealth fighter. It will replace at least 13 types of aircraft for 11 nations. Because three variants, or types of F-35s, were created from one common design, developed together and will use the same infrastructure, the Joint Strike Fighter stands to be the most cost-effective fighter program in history. The Department of Defense has estimated support costs will be about half that of present-day fighters, and streamlined assembly methods will cut production time. The common design will allow Lockheed to produce the aircraft using an assembly line production, a new feat for fifth-generation stealth aircraft. The AF-1 is the first produced, completed on the company’s moving assembly line at its full rate of production. It is the first aircraft since World War II to use a moving assembly line at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas, factory. “Because many airplanes will be built concurrently, we will deliver about one aircraft per working day during fullrate production,” Kent said. The F-35 will become the workhorse of the Air Force fleet. Like the AF-1, most of Eglin’s jets will be conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) fighters. “The Lightning II CTOL aircraft will be, by far, the most widely employed F-35 variant in the world,” Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager, said in a press release. “The F-35A we delivered is, at its core, the same aircraft that will enter operational service with the Air Force and international customers.” The latest Lightning II is one of only four aircraft with the latest weight specifications.Threeweight-optimized F-35Bs are being tested. The first F-35A, known as AA-1, has completed 69 flights, but its internal structure was designed before a 2004 weightsavings program revised all three F-35 variants. “AF-1 incorporates many evolutionary improvements and updates that have resulted from our AA-1 flight test program over the last two years,” said Tom Burbage, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and general manager of F-35 Program Integration. “Right now, it takes about a year and a half to build an F-35. That will continue to drop to about six months when production is going full blast,” Kent said. Lockheed Martin’s second F-35 Lightning II ground-test aircraft also rolled out this month. The new F-35, called AG-1, is the full-scale static test article for the CTOL variant, which will be flown by the U.S. Air Force and eight of the nine F-35 partner countries. The static test aircraft for the STOVL variant was delivered earlier this year and successfully has completed a third of its planned test program in Fort Worth. “AG-1 will be placed in a state-of-the-art test rig where twisting, bending and pulling forces are applied to validate that the CTOL variant’s structure can sustain the tremendous forces and loads exerted during flight,” Crowley said in the press release. “This test article enables F-35 to retire technical risk as quickly as possible so flight testing can progress toward the CTOL’s full nine-G performance envelope on schedule.” In late March, AG-1 will be shipped to the BAE Systems Structures Laboratory in Brough, England. Arrival is expected in late April. Upon the completion of the fullscale static testing program, AG-1 will be shipped back to the United States.