Fighter Jet News

F-35 Lightning II News

F-35B powered up for the first time

October 26, 2007 (by Asif Shamim) - Electrical power was applied for the first time to the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II on Thursday night, thus initiating a series of ground tests that will lead to the inaugural flight of the short-takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) stealth fighter next spring in 2008.


"The successful 'power-on' signals that production of the first F-35B Lightning II is on track for first flight next year, a key step toward realizing the aviation future of the U.S. Marines, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy," said Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager. The aircraft is scheduled to roll out of the factory in December.

The F-35 will be the most electronically advanced aircraft ever built. The F-35B’s power-on is an incremental process of testing the aircraft’s circuits, electronic components and wiring.

"This event is one of the major milestones in the life of the STOVL aircraft and we have eagerly anticipated it for some time," said Maj. Gen. C.R. Davis, F-35 program executive officer. "The F-35 has the most complex electrical system of any fighter to date. We had great success with the first jet we flew, but that jet taught us some very important lessons about its electrical system and those lessons have been incorporated into the jet we powered up today. So congrats to the team and on to first flight."

The aircraft incorporates parts and systems coming from all nine F-35 partner countries (United States, United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway), this includes the wiring harness, produced by Stork Fokker-Elmo of the Netherlands. The wiring harness is crucial for the F-35’s electrical system, routing and apportioning electrical current throughout the aircraft.

The U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy together are planning to operate 680 F-35Bs and F-35Cs variants, and the United Kingdom plans to place 138 F-35Bs into service with both the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. The F-35B will be the world’s first stealth fighter with supersonic and STOVL capability. The first F-35B fleet will go operational in 2012 with the Marines.

The first F-35, a conventional takeoff and landing version, began its flight test program on Dec. 15, 2006.

The F-35 is a supersonic, multi-role, 5th generation stealth fighter designed to replace a wide range of existing aircraft, including AV-8B Harriers, A-10s, F-16s, F/A-18 Hornets, and United Kingdom Harrier GR.7s and Sea Harriers.

Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 Lightning II with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. Two separate, interchangeable F-35 engines are under development, the Pratt & Whitney F135 and the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team F136.

Additional images:

The STOVL system on the F-35B utilises a shaft-driven lift fan propulsion system. Here the X-35B can bee seen over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. [LMTAS photo]