June 23, 2010 (by John R. Kent) - A Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II carrier variant successfully completed testing in which it was dropped from heights of more than 11 feet during a series of simulated aircraft-carrier landings. The tests validated predictions and will help confirm the F-35C's structural integrity for carrier operations.
CG-1, the ground test article for the Lockheed Martin F-35 carrier variant, is positioned for its final drop test at Vought Aircraft Industries in Dallas on June 9th, 2010. The series of drop tests were designed to mimic landing conditions on a carrier deck and resulted in no load exceedances or structural issues. Completion of the drop testing clears the way for carrier landing testing and shipboard testing at high sink rates. [Vought Aircraft Industries photo]
The jet, a ground-test article known as CG-1, underwent drop testing at Vought Aircraft Industries in Grand Prairie, Texas. No load exceedances or structural issues were found at any of the drop conditions, and all drops were conducted at the maximum carrier landing weight. The drop conditions included sink rates, or rates of descent, up to the maximum design value of 26.4 feet per second, as well as various angles and weight distributions. The tests were used to mimic the wide range of landing conditions expected in the fleet.
"The completion of the drop tests is an important step in clearing the way for field carrier landing testing and shipboard testing at high sink rates –a necessary feature for a carrier-suitable strike fighter," said Larry Lawson, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager. "This testing also validates the design tools and analysis used in building a structurally sound, carrier-suitable fighter."
This final drop test follows the recent first flight of the first F-35C.
The F-35 program has about 900 suppliers in 45 states, and directly and indirectly employs more than 127,000 people. Thousands more are employed in the F-35 partner countries, which have invested more than $4 billion in the project. Those countries are the United Kingdom, Italy
, the Netherlands
, Canada, Australia, Denmark
Three F-35 variants are under development – the F-35A CTOL
variant to replace U.S. Air Force F-16s and A-10s, as well as aircraft employed by seven allied nations; the F-35B STOVL
variant to replace U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers and F/A-18s, U.K. Royal Air Force and Royal Navy Harrier GR.7s, GR.9s and Sea Harriers, and Italian Harriers; and the F-35C carrier variant to replace U.S. Navy F/A-18s.