Two F-35A Lightning II Lockheed Martin stealth fighters were flown non-stop to the Edwards Air Force Base in California from the Fort Worth, final assembly site in Texas recently.
These fighters are the first in the F-35 series that will help to expand the Edwards F-35 range of test fleet to a minimum of eight aircraft.
Lockheed’s major industrial partners, namely BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed are jointly developing the F-35. In addition, the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team F136 and the Pratt & Whitney F135 engines are also being developed as F-35 interchangeable engines.
The F-35 specific Autonomous Logistics Information System (ALIS) supports the F-35 test aircraft. The Fort Worth-based Sustainment Operations Center of Lockheed manages the F-35 test aircraft. The ALIS is a worldwide support system that reports and records the health and prognostics of every F-35 in the world for ensuring mission readiness.
The traditional take off and landing version of F-35A is capable of meeting the needs of the U.S. Air Force, besides being the Lightning II’s export version. The F-35A will now be deployed by the air forces of Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark, Turkey, Australia, and Canada.
Jon Beesley, Chief Test Pilot of Lockheed Martin and Lt. Col. Hank "Hog" Griffiths, a test pilot of the U.S. Air Force, piloted the two jet fighters the AF-1 and the AF-2 during the long range, non-stop, multi-ship flight. The F-35’s will be subjected to flight and ground test activities for flight envelope expansion, propulsion, logistical support, aerial refueling and weapons integration during their deployment to Edwards Air Force Base.
According to Beesley, the smooth ferry flight demonstrated the manner in which Lockheed Martin and the Air Force collaborated at the initial stages before the long term testing of the F-35 at Edwards.
Doug Pearson, Vice President of F-35 test and verification at Lockheed Martin, informed that Lockheed is conducting rigorous flight tests to develop a lethal and dominant fifth generation fighter for the U.S. and its allies. He revealed that presently three F-35 fighters are being subjected to flight trials at the Patuxent River, Md. based Naval Air Station. He added that this naval air station functions as the primary site for testing of the F-35C carrier version and the F-35B short vertical take off type of landing variant.