F-35 program completes static structural testing

Lockheed Martin tested the structure to 115 percent of requirements and confirmed that no detrimental deformation of the structure occurred.

Related Topics:

 

Lockheed Martin (Fort Worth, Texas) reported on Sept. 19 that its F-35 program has successfully completed static structural testing, achieving one of five milestones established by the Joint Program Office for 2011. Static structural testing is used to verify the structural integrity of the airframe and to ensure that the specifications outlined in the technical drawings are accurate. External loads, designed to simulate the pressures of full-envelope flight, are applied to hundreds of points on the airframe, using an integrated system of load pads, hydraulic actuators, air-pressurization mechanisms and reaction channels. Engineering teams at Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems (London, U.K.) , Northrop Grumman (West Falls Church, Va.) and the Joint Program Office conducted the tests during the past two years.

To prove that the airframe is capable of withstanding the pressures associated with the full flight envelope, engineers tested the structure to 115 percent of requirements and confirmed that no detrimental deformation of the structure occurred. In the final phase of static structural testing, the airframe was pushed to 150 percent of requirements to verify that there would be no rupturing or other structural failures.

“The completion of static structural testing demonstrates the significant progress that we’re making on our joint mission to field this 5th Generation air combat capability,” said Larry Lawson, executive VP and general manager of the F-35 program. Bob Burt, director of F-35 Structures Development, added, “This is a significant accomplishment for the F-35 program. Working together with our partners at BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman and the Joint Program Office, we successfully completed the static structural testing ahead of schedule.”

Since July 26, 2011, the F-35 Lightning II has flown 124 test flights, bringing the total number of flights for the year to 642. Overall, the F-35 system development and demonstration (SDD) flight test program remains on or ahead of schedule for 2011, despite the loss of 15 days due to fleet stand-down after a ground mishap involving the Integrated Power Package (IPP), according to Lockheed Martin. Flight testing also was interrupted at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Md., because of an Aug. 23 earthquake and severe weather associated with Hurricane Irene.