An F-35C flown by Peter Wilson, a BAE Systems test pilot, during the final System Development and Demonstration (SDD) test flight. The was flown from NAS Patuxent River, MD on 11 April 2018. (F-35 Joint Program Office)
By: Valerie Insinna
WASHINGTON — The F-35 joint strike fighter on Wednesday flew its final developmental flight test, effectively capping off the development phase of the program 11 years after the aircraft took its first flight in 2006.
The F-35, built by Lockheed Martin, will now move into operational test and evaluation conducted by the Pentagon’s independent testing office. Once finished, the systems development and demonstration (SDD) portion of the program will be officially complete and the F-35 will enter full rate production.
Vice Adm. Mat Winter, F-35 joint program executive officer, said Wednesday at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space conference that he expected to finish the final SDD flight test this week “and potentially even today. … That is a significant milestone for this program.”
That test point — during which the Navy test aircraft CF-2 collected data while carrying 2,000-pound GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munitions and AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles as an external load — occurred on April 11 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.
Over the entire test program, the JPO was responsible for “conducting more than 9,200 sorties, accumulating over 17,000 flight hours, and executing more than 65,000 test points to verify the design, durability, software, sensors, weapons capability and performance for all three F-35 variants,” Winter said in a statement on Thursday.
During the SDD program, the program completed more than 1,500 vertical landing tests of the Marine Corps’ F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing variant, and conducted six periods of at-sea testing with the F-35B and F-35C carrier variant.
It also carried out 183 weapon separation tests and 46 weapons delivery accuracy tests, as well as 22 mission effectiveness tests that weigh the F-35’s abilitiy to stand up to advanced threats in multi-ship engagements of up to eight joint strike fighters, the JPO said in a statement......Read rest of article: HERE
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