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F-35 flight test progress report

September 20, 2011 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The F-35 flight test program moves closer to reaching year-end milestones since the last update issued July 26. Since then, the F-35 Lightning II conducted 124 test flights, bringing the total number of flights for the year to 642.

A row of all LRIP produced F-35s to date. [Lockheed Martin photo]

Overall, the F-35 system development and demonstration (SDD) flight test remains on or ahead of plan for 2011, despite 15 days of testing lost due to fleet stand-down after a ground mishap involving the Integrated Power Package (IPP). Flight testing was also interrupted at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Md., because of an Aug. 23 earthquake and severe weather associated with Hurricane Irene. During this period of down time, the flight test teams at all locations continued working through planned modifications and maintenance.

As of Aug. 31, the fleet remained 8 percent ahead of plan in year-to-date (YTD) flights.

Several flight test and production key milestones were accomplished since the last report:
  • BF-1 performed a 40 foot hover in calm winds and two vertical landings (VL) for the 150th VL to date on Aug. 31.
  • AF-10 and AF-11 were delivered to Eglin AFB, Fla., Aug. 31. They join AF-8 and AF-9 assigned to the 33d Fighter Wing.
  • Static testing was completed on the F-35C Lightning II carrier variant (CV) ground article CG-1 at Lockheed Martin Fort Worth, Texas, Aug. 29. With this achievement, the F-35 Program has accomplished its static structural testing milestone for 2011.
  • Jet Blast Deflector (JBD) testing was completed by F-35 CV aircraft CF-2 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. from June 25-August 13. CF-2 successfully completed this portion of JBD tests required to ensure the F-35C is compatible aboard an aircraft carrier.
  • AF-7 completed its last flight of currently required conventional take off and landing (CTOL) maturity flights on Aug. 31.

Cumulative flight test activity totals for 2011:
  • F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) jets have flown 314 times.
  • F-35B short takeoff/ vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft have completed 226 flights.
  • F-35C carrier variant (CV) jets have flown 102 times.

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