Wednesday, May 18, 2011

F-35C Test Aircraft Exceeding Test and Evaluation Goals

The U.S. Navy variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35C, conducts a test flight over the Chesapeake Bay. Lt. Cmdr. Eric "Magic" Buus flew the F-35C for two hours, checking instruments that will measure structural loads on the airframe during flight maneuvers. The F-35C is distinct from the F-35A and F-35B variants with larger wing surfaces and reinforced landing gear for greater control when operating in the demanding carrier take-off and landing environment. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy Lockheed Martin/Released)

From F-35C Integrated Test Force, Naval Air Systems Command Public Affairs

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS) -- Naval Air Systems Command announced May 17 that the test aircraft for the carrier variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is exceeding test and evaluation program goals so far this year.

According to the announcement, the F-35C test aircraft, 'CF-1,' currently at Naval Air Station Patuxent River has completed 36 test flights as of May 11, nearly half the program's goal for the year of 85.

"CF-1's been flying well, even with a number of planned and unplanned maintenance periods," said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Roger Cordell, military site director. "It's a great sign for the fleet that the aircraft is doing well so early in the test program."

In April, CF-1 completed 13 flights, tying a record for the number of test flights for any aircraft at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Additionally, the integrated test team has completed seven CF-1 test flights this month.

"The team has been doing a great job staying on top of maintenance requirements," said Jim McClendon, Lockheed Martin site director vice president. "Just last week, CF-1 flew six flights in six days, which is a great accomplishment in any test program, let alone test and evaluation for a brand new aircraft."

Coupled with this week's arrival of the second carrier variant, CF-2, and arrival of CF-3 later this year, the F-35C test program is making rapid progress toward initial carrier suitability testing this year at Joint Base Lakehurst-McGuire-Dix in New Jersey.

First carrier suitability testing this summer is scheduled to include the first catapult launches, and the F-35C is scheduled to commence shipboard testing in 2013.

The F-35C is the carrier variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, with larger wing control surfaces and reinforced landing gear to operate in the maritime environment. The F-35C is undergoing test and evaluation to evaluate flutter, loads and mission systems at NAS Patuxent River prior to eventual delivery to the fleet.