Fighter Jet News

F-35 Lightning II News

F-35 demonstrates capabilities during flawless second flight

January 9, 2007 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The F-35 Lightning II achieved another successful test flight yesterday from the Lockheed Martin Fort Worth, Texas, facility.

The F-35 Lightning II cruises over North Texas at 20,000 feet on Monday, Jan. 8. F-35 Chief Test Pilot Jon Beesley described the aircraft as "dazzling" as he put it through a battery of handling and propulsion tests on its second flight. [LMTAS photo]

"The maturity of this highly integrated aircraft for its second flight is dazzling -- when it's time to fly it is always ready and takes minimal time to get out of the chocks," said Jon Beesley, F-35 Chief Test Pilot.

"The flight underscores that the Lightning II flies just as our engineers predicted. This was the first time that we have retracted the landing gear and the aircraft handling qualities were outstanding. I continue to be impressed by this marvelous airplane's performance and handling characteristics."

Approximately 10 minutes into the flight, Beesley retracted the landing gear and climbed from 15,000 to 20,000 feet to evaluate handling qualities and engine operation in the cruise mode at Mach 0.6 (~ 450 m.p.h.) and Mach 0.7 (~ 530 m.p.h.). The handling tests included rolls, turns, angle-of-attack changes and engine throttle changes.

The flight lasted 62 minutes and was executed exactly as planned. It followed the aircraft's successful first flight on Dec. 15, when the F-35 demonstrated unprecedented engine performance and handling qualities.

"With this successful flight and its broad array of test points, F-35 flight test has really begun," said Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager. "The ease of starting and flying this aircraft is a reflection of the quality of the team who designed and built it."

Additional images:

The first F-35 Lightning II flew for the first time on Friday, Dec. 15. The plane is shown taking off from Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas. [LMTAS photo by Neal Chapman]