Australia’s first Lockheed Martin F-35A Lighning II made its maiden flight. And here are a couple of interesting photographs.
On Sept. 29, F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, AU-1, made its first flight from Lockheed Martin’s Forth Worth facility, in Texas.
Piloted by Lockheed Martin F-35 Chief Test Pilot Alan Norman, the aircraft performed a series of functional checks during the sortie that lasted two hours.
The aircraft, one of the 72 multi-role planes destined to the RAAF will be delivered to the “customer” later this year and will be assigned to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona where Australia and other partner countries will train their F-35 pilots.
The RAAF is expected to base the Joint Strike Fighter at two airfields: Williamtown, in New South Wales, and Tindal, in the Northern Territory, where 1.5 billion USD facilities and infrastructures to support the new fifth generation radar-evading plane will be built.
The RAAF is expected to base the Joint Strike Fighter at two bases: Williamtown, in New South Wales, and Tindal, in the Northern Territory, where 1.5 billion USD facilities and infrastructures to support the new fifth generation radar-evading plane will be built.
Ahead of the ceremony, Lockheed Martin unveiled to media the second F-35 (top image), AU-2, which already wears the standard overall grey color scheme along with the RAAF roundels and tail marking of the No 2 Operational Conversion Unit from RAAF Williamtown.
The root cause of the fire has been identified in excessive rubbing between the turbine blades and the cowling, a problem not endemic to the fleet, based on the inspections of the other F-35 engines; still something that must be closely monitored.
That’s why the return to flight is restricted: the F-35s can’t fly faster than Mach 0.9 and are limited to 18 degrees of angle of attack. The envelope is limited from -1 G to +3 Gs and, above all, after three hours of flight time, each front fan section of each engine has to be inspected with a borescope.
Sporting the brand new two-tone dark gray over light gray paint scheme, that has replaced the original flat light gray livery, the aircraft will be on display with several weapons models including Raytheon Griffin Missiles, Boeing JDAM and SDBs, Textron Systems Weapon & Sensor Systems G-CLAWs, Raytheon Enhanced Paveway 4, and Lockheed Martin Hellfire and DAGR.
Although it will not accommodate any air-to-air or air-to-surface radar, the Scorpion will be able to carry various infrared air-to-air missiles and wing-mounted gun pods that could be useful, among the others, for SMI (Slow Mover Interception) missions.
Indeed, at 3,000 USD per flight hour and with stall speeds of less than 100 knots, Scorpion jet could really represent a cost-effective solution to enforce Temporary Flight Restrictions and NFZs (No Fly Zones) to protect chunks of the U.S. airspace.
The journey to the UK included stopovers in Montréal (Canada), Keflavik (Iceland), Edinburgh (UK) and Chalgrove (UK).