February 17, 2010 (by Bjørnar Bolsøy) - Piloted by Lockheed Martin F-35 Test Pilot Jeff Knowles, the third F-35B Lightning II short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) stealth fighter landed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., today.
The third Lockheed Martin F-35B STOVL test aircraft takes off from Fort Worth, Texas on February 17th en route to its primary test site at NAS Patuxent River, Md. The stealth fighter joined two other F-35Bs at Patuxent River following a 3-hour and 10-minute flight. [Lockheed Martin photo]
“Today, the third of our five STOVL
test jets joined the F-35 fleet at the Test Center as our flight test program initiates the expansion of the F-35’s flight-sciences envelope,” said Tom Burbage, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and general manager of F-35 Program Integration. “Our focus remains on fielding the F-35’s tremendous capabilities to our warfighters, recapitalizing our nation’s aging fighter fleet, and meeting our commitments to the F-35 partner nations.”
The jet, known as BF-3, took off near Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth plant at 9:51 a.m. CST and arrived at NAS
Patuxent River three hours and 10 minutes later. BF-3 joins two other F-35Bs at the Navy test site, and will be used mainly to evaluate vehicle systems and expand the aircraft’s aerodynamic and structural-loads envelope. The airplane will also focus on weapons testing, and will carry and release most of the weapons the F-35B will use in combat. Two more F-35Bs will join the test operation in the near future. The latter airplanes will be the primary test assets for the F-35’s integrated mission systems.
In addition to flight testing, the F-35 Program is using the Autonomic Logistic Information System (ALIS
) for maintenance actions, spares tracking and technical data support. ALIS is part of the F-35’s innovative sustainment architecture monitored by the F-35 Autonomic Logistics Global Sustainment (ALGS) Operations Center in Fort Worth. The early deployment of the F-35 net-enabled logistics system to be used by all nine partner countries helps ensure the F-35's smooth transition to operational status, and is a key enabler for lower life cycle costs.