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F-35 Lightning II News

F-35 finishes all taxi testing, prepares for flight

December 13, 2006 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The first Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II successfully completed all ground taxi tests today, among some of the last activities clearing the way for its inaugural flight.

The first F-35 Lightning II speeds along the runway at 127 miles per hour on Dec. 12 at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas. Engineers will review the taxi-test data before giving the final "go" for the aircraft's first flight. [LMTAS photo]

In a series of tests that began on Dec. 7, F-35 Chief Pilot Jon Beesley guided the fighter along the runway at increasing speeds to evaluate the aircraft's ground handling and systems.

On Dec. 12, Beesley executed two final taxi runs, the first at 80 knots (~ 92 m.p.h.) and the last at 110 knots (~ 127 m.p.h.). Pushed along by the Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan – the most powerful fighter engine in history – the Lightning II performed its final taxi runs successfully and as predicted.

Over the next 24 hours the flight test team will review all taxi-test data, and although the date for first flight is not definite, the flight window will be from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. CST when all conditions – weather, etc. - are "go."

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