Lockheed Martin (Bethesda, Md., USA) reported on Dec. 15 that the composites-intensive F-35 Lightning II program team reached its 2010 goal of 394 test flights jointly established by the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office and Lockheed Martin. Since the first flight of the F-35 on Dec. 15, 2006, the program has logged a total of 531 flights, expanding the performance envelope of the three F-35 variants and testing the mission systems.
"We exceeded our 394-flight goal and expect to meet our overall test-point goal this year by reaching ahead and working 2011 test points," said J.D. McFarlan, Lockheed Martin vice president of F-35 Test and Verification. "While we are still behind on our overall STOVL variant testing, we are working through a plan to get us back on track."
In November, the program completed 60 flights against a plan of 51. Both the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) and the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variants exceeded their monthly flight targets. The F-35C carrier variant (CV) jet fell just two flights short of its plan.
The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.
Editor PickSkinning the F-35 fighter
Fasteneing the all-composites skin on the Lightning II requires machining and drilling technology that is optimized for cost-efficiency.