The Navy’s F-35C has kicked off the second phase of Developmental Testing at sea.
On Oct. 2, U.S. Navy test pilots Cmdr. Tony “Brick” Wilson and LT Chris “TJ” Karapostoles landed F-35C test aircraft CF-03 and CF-05 aboard USS Eisenhower (CVN 69) off the coast of the eastern United States.
F-35C test pilots and engineers from the F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Patuxent River, Maryland, that has already conducted DT-I on the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) from Nov. 3 to 14, 2014, will remain aboard “IKE” until Oct. 15 testing JSF carrier suitability and integration in the at-sea environment.
The test team will achieve this objective through a series of test events designed to gradually expand the aircraft operating envelope at sea. In fact, during DT-II, the F-35C will perform a variety of operational maneuvers, such as catapult take offs and arresting landings, while simulating maintenance operations and conducting general maintenance and fit tests for the aircraft and support equipment.
DT-II is the second of three at sea test phases planned for the F-35C: indeed, as any other naval aircraft the Lightning II undergoes DT-I, -II, and –III test phases. After the end of each Developmental Testing phase, the team conduct an assessment of the F-35C’s performance in the shipboard environment before advising the Navy on any adjustments necessary to ensure that the fifth generation fighter is ready to meet its scheduled initial operational capability in 2018.
As this video shows, cold and wet weather did not prevent the test team from operating the two Lightning IIs aboard the USS Eisenhower.
Lockheed Martin rolled out the first F-35A for Norway at its JSF production facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
On Sept. 22, Lockheed Martin rolled out the first Norwegian F-35.
The aircraft, designated AM-1, represents an important production milestone for both the F-35 program and the Norwegian Armed Forces, where 52 Lightning IIs are expected to replace the Royal Norwegian Air Force ageing F-16s, bringing the country national defense into a new era.
Norwegian Minister of Defense, Her Excellency Ine Eriksen Søreide, who was the guest of honor at the event, remarked the importance of the Lightning II for the future of Norwegian Armed Forces. She pointed out in fact that, being a 5th generation aircraft, the F-35 is the only platform able to give Norway the capabilities to face future surface and airborne threats.
Furthermore, the partnership to the F-35 program will also provide the country with high technology work, ensuring the future health, competitiveness and viability of the defense industry in Norway.
AM-1 will be joined soon by Norway’s second jet, known as AM-2, which is scheduled to be delivered to the Royal Norwegian Air Force later this year.
The two F-35s will be based at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, where they will be used for Norwegian and partner country pilot training.
The F-35 Integrated Test Force has just released an interesting video showing the 181 round gun burst of the 25 millimeter Gatling gun embedded in the F-35A’s left wing root.
The video was filmed during a ground test at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Gun Harmonizing Range on Aug. 14; initial shots were fired on Jun. 9 and ground testing should be completed by the end of this month. Airborne testing is to start in the fall and at the end of the firing campaign the gun will be operative by 2017.
According to LM, the F-35 flight sciences aircraft, AF-2, underwent instrumentation modifications and used a production version of the GAU-22/A gun to achieve the full capacity of 181 rounds: along with practice PGU-23/U target practice rounds (which do not explode on impact) software to replicate being in flight was uploaded to the aircraft to conduct the test.
Interestingly, the gun is hidden behind closed doors, to reduce the plane’s RCS (radar cross section) and keep it stealth, until the trigger is engaged.
While the F-35A will be equipped with an embedded GAU-22 gun, the B (STOVL – Short Take Off Vertical Landing) and C (CV – Carrier Variant) variants will carry it inside an external pod capable to hold 220 rounds.
The Italian KC-767 is the first international aerial refueling tanker to be certified to refuel the F-35.
A KC-767A belonging to 8° Gruppo (Squadron) of 14° Stormo (Wing) from Pratica di Mare airbase, near Rome, became the first international tanker to successfully complete aerial refueling of a U.S. Air Force F-35A during a boom receiver certification refueling flight conducted over California’s High Desert region on Jul. 29.
The Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) KC-767A is the first tanker not operated by the U.S. Air Force to undergo refueling certification trials with a U.S. aircraft.
Italy operates a fleet of four KC-767A next generation tankers equipped with both the sixth generation flying boom (based on the one of the American KC-10) and used to refuel the F-35A, and three hose and drogue stations that give the KC-767 the ability to refuel aircraft equipped with onboard receptacle or those with a refueling probe (as the F-35B).
The first KC-767 was delivered to the Italian Air Force on Jan. 27, 2011 and had its “baptism of fire” few months later, during the Air War in Libya, when the new tanker conducted air-to-air refueling missions of Italian planes involved in Operation Unified Protector.