Wow. USAF went all-out for this occasion, judging by the photos. From an Eglin AFB press release:
U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.8/26/2011 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- An official unveiling of the F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter was labeled as a "historic occasion" by Air Force officials hosting the ceremony Aug. 26 at the 33rd Fighter Wing.
The roll-out had great visuals and the aircraft just gleams in that dramatic lighting (more pics at the link). But there was no mention of the fact the F-35 program has been plagued by delays, cost over-runs, missed milestones, and a complete swap out of DoD program management officials at the highest levels. The US and its allies have a LOT riding on the success of this program, what with the premature cancellation of the F-22. Let's hope it's smooth sailing... err, flying... from here on out.On display for the ceremony, surrounded by lighting effects, was tail number 747, known as Lockheed Martin AF-9. It was delivered here July 14 by the Air Force's first JSF pilot, Lt. Col. Eric Smith. The fanfare that welcomed both the jet and congratulated its driver repeated July 20 when Marine Maj. Joseph Bachmann delivered the second F-35.
"While this celebration is taking place in the Air Force hangar with the Air Force variant of the F-35, this is really a story about the fully integrated team of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, industry and community partners who have been working years to make this day possible," said Col. Andrew Toth, 33rd FW commander. "In fact, Marine Col. Art Tomassetti, my vice, MC, and test pilot, has been with this program for more than a decade. So, some of us have been awaiting a long time to see this day."