The US Navy has received its first mission-systems-equipped Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II test jet at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.

A short take-off / vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft, the BF-4 is the fourth F-35B to arrive and begin testing at the naval air station.

Lockheed Martin F-35 programme integration executive vice-president Tom Burbage said the mission systems aircraft featured advanced aerodynamic capabilities and flying qualities, along with the most capable transcendent avionics capability.

Other features of the STOVL aircraft include a next-generation sensor suit capable of collecting vast amounts of information that can be presented on state-of-the-art cockpit and helmet displays.

With the sensor suite, the pilot can make faster and more effective tactical decisions and transfer information to other aircraft as well as maritime and ground forces.

Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 in cooperation with Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.

The US Navy is expected to induct a fifth F-35B with the first navy carrier variant in 2011 at Patuxent River.