01 August 2014 Eric Schnaible - RAF
Fort Worth, Texas, July 30, 2014 – In an important program milestone enabling U.S. Marines Corps Initial Operational Capability (IOC) certification, the Lockheed Martin F-35B recently completed required wet runway and crosswind testing at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
“This testing is absolutely critical to 2B flight software fleet release and the Marine Corps’ IOC,” said J.D. McFarlan, Lockheed Martin's vice president for F-35 Test & Verification. “Collectively, the results support clearing the 20 knot crosswind envelope for Conventional Take Off & Landings (CTOL), Short Take Offs (STO) and Short Landings (SL), with ideal handling quality ratings and meaningful improvement over legacy 4th generational fighter aircraft.”
The testing, completed in 37 missions during a 41-day period, achieved 114 test points, including 48 of 48 wet runway test points, four of four performance STOs, 12 of 18 unique flight test conditions for STO, 19 of 23 unique flight test conditions for SLs and all directional control and anti-skid wet runway testing. All testing was performed with BF-4, based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.
In other achievements, four aircraft surpassed flight hour milestones, demonstrating program maturity and reliability: F-35C aircraft CF-1 and F-35A aircraft AF-4 achieved 500 flight hours, and F-35C aircraft CF-5 achieved 100 flight hours.
The F-35 Lightning II, a 5th generation fighter, combines advanced low observable stealth technology with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least 10 other countries. Following the U.S. Marine Corps’ planned July 2015 IOC, the U.S. Air Force and Navy intend to attain IOC in Aug. 2016 and 2018, respectively.
Group Captain Paul Godfrey, the Royal Air Force officer responsible for entry into service of the aircraft, which will be known in the UK as Lightning II said: ‘’The achievement of yet another important milestone within the F-35B programme continues to cement the foundations of the UK Initial Operating Capability in 2018. Although crosswind limits and runway conditions do not often get attention outside of specialist forums, the ability to be able to land and take off in a range of weathers is critical to the operational capability of the aircraft. To be at this level early in the development of the aircraft is a huge step forward and has already surpassed legacy STOVL aircraft limitations, which is testament to the next-generation flight control software on the F-35 and the ease of operation for the pilot.’’