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F-35 hits top design speed in flight testing

November 4, 2011 (by Bjørnar Bolsøy) - After the busiest month of flight testing to date and concluding three weeks of successful ship trials on the USS WASP the F-35 has reached its maximum design speed of Mach 1.6.

USAF test pilot Lt. Col. George Griffiths flies AF-1 over Edwards AFB. [Lockheed Martin photo by David Henry]

The record flight was flown at Edwards AFB by AF-1, as the jet is called, on October 25, a few days after the USS Wasp returned to its homeport of Naval Station Norfolk on October 21. In all two jets, BF-2 and BF-4, accomplished 72 short takeoffs and 72 vertical landings on the WASP.

According to a Lockheed Martin progress report, since the last flight test update issued on September 20, the program has completed 185 test flights, bringing the total for the year to 837.

● October was the busiest month for flying in the history of the F-35 flight test program, with F-35 aircraft executing 122 flights. The F-35B aircraft known as BF-2 accomplished 22 flights, the most ever for an F-35 in one month.

● F-35Bs completed their 500th flight on Sept. 30. In October, F-35Bs executed the most vertical landings (73) for a single month in the history of the flight test program, including the 200th vertical landing for the program Oct. 4.

● AF-12 and AF-13 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft were delivered to the 33d Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., on Oct. 19 and 26, respectively. This marked the fifth and sixth delivery of CTOL jets to Eglin and the 12th overall delivery of an F-35 to the Department of Defense in 2011.

● As of Nov. 3, F-35C carrier variant (CV) jets had executed 59 successful catapult launches and three arrestments.

● F-35C aircraft achieved 200 flight hours on Sept. 22.

Cumulative flight test activity for 2011:

● F-35A CTOL jets have flown 407 times.
● F-35B STOVL aircraft have completed 296 flights.
● F-35C CV jets have flown 134 times.

In all the F-35 has completed 1432 sorties since its first flight on November the 3rd 2006.

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