July 27, 2011 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The F-35 flight test program moves closer to achieving year-end milestones since the last update issued June 13. The F-35 Lightning II 5th Generation multirole fighter conducted 107 test flights, bringing the total number of flights for the year to 518.
Overall, the F-35 program remains ahead of goals for test flights. Through July 25, the program accomplished 518 flights versus a plan of 476.
Several flight test and production key milestones were accomplished since the last report:
- The fifth Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II short take off/vertical landing (STOVL) flight test aircraft was delivered to the Marine Corps arriving at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Md., on July 16.
- AF-9, the first production F-35 delivered to Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), Fla., arrived July 14 and AF-8, the second Eglin jet, was delivered July 20. AF-8 is the eighth F-35 delivered in 2011. The jets will be used for activities in concert with training F-35 pilots and maintainers at the new F-35 Integrated Training Center.
- Jet Blast Deflector (JBD) testing was performed by F-35C Lightning II carrier variant (CV) aircraft CF-2 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. from June 25-July 8. CF-2 successfully completed this portion of tests required to ensure the F-35C is compatible aboard an aircraft carrier.
- AF-6 and AF-7 commenced Maturity Flight testing of the training syllabus software at Edwards AFB. This software will be used for training at Eglin AFB this fall.
- Four F-35s completed their first flights since the last update: AF-10 on June 26, AF-11 on July 1, AF-12 on July 8, and AF-13 on July 14.
- AF-2 completed the 1,000th test flight (including AA-1) for the F-35 System Development and Demonstration (SDD) test program on July 6.
- AF-3, at Edwards AFB, completed the 500th SDD flight for 2011 on July 21.
- 122 vertical landings have been performed to date.
Cumulative flight test activity totals for 2011:
- F-35A conventional take off and landing (CTOL) jets have flown 250 times.
- F-35B short take off/ vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft have completed 187 flights.
- F-35C carrier variant (CV) jets have flown 81 times.
- From the start of flight testing in December 2006 through July 25, 2011, F-35s flew 1,065 times, including the production-model flights and AA-1, the original flight test aircraft.