Tag Archives: Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

An F-16 launched a JSM (long-range strike missile for the F-35) for the first time over Utah last week

Testing of the new missile for the F-35 continues.

Last week, a Joint Strike Missile (JSM) was successfully launched at 22,000 feet from an Edwards Air Force Base F-16 over the Utah Test and Training Center during a missile flight test (which included “challenging maneuvers”) aimed at proving the maturity of the missile and its flight control software.

The JSM is a new missile being developed in partnership with Raytheon for the F-35 by the Norwegian company Kongsberg and the Norwegian Ministry of Defence.

Unveiled on Nov. 29, 2012, the Joint Strike Missile (JSM), is going to be the only powered anti-ship missile that will fit inside the F-35’s weapons bays. Derived from the Naval Strike Missile (NSM), the anti-ship weapon, featuring long-range, low radar cross section and high maneuverability, speed and accuracy, is involved in a flight test program started early 2015 with numerous captive carry tests on an F-16. Testing will continue 2016 and 2017 when qualification program is planned to complete.

The JSM will give the F-35 the ability to fight well-defended targets across long distances. The missile will be integrated on the F-35A (as well as other types of aircraft): even though it would be useful to carry four missiles (2 in the internal bays, 2 on the external pylons) a Lightning II carrying the JSM on the underwing pylons would lose much of its stealthiness, that’s why the Joint Strike Fighter will probably only carry two such stand-off missiles.

Image credit: Lockheed Martin


Fantastic air-to-air shots of the first Norwegian F-35 during test flight

Here’s the Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35A.

The following images show the F-35A AM-1 5087, the first Royal Norwegian Air Force Lightning II aircraft during some of the first test flights it conducted in October from Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth facilities.

The aircraft was rolled out on Sept. 22 and along with other 51 F-35s it is expected to replace the Royal Norwegian Air Force ageing F-16s.

RNoAF F-35

The second Norwegian JSF, known as AM-2, is scheduled to be delivered to the RoNAF later this year.

RNoAF F-35 2

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.

RNoAF F-35 3

RNoAF F-35 4

Image credit: Lockheed Martin


Two Italian pilots fly for the first time in the F-35 jet from Luke Air Force Base

The first F-35 flights under control of an Italian pilot.

On Nov. 5, two Italian Air Force pilots, belonging to the Italian Air Force RSV (Reparto Sperimentale Volo – ItAF Test Wing), completed their initial training flight in the F-35 Lightning II at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.

It was the very first time an Italian pilot flew the 5th generation combat plane.

Interestingly, one Italian flew his mission in an Australian F-35A whereas the other one flew in a U.S. F-35 assigned to 56th FW. They were supported by Australian, USAF and Lockheed Martin ground crew and two IPs (Instructor Pilots) from the 61st Fighter Squadron flew alongside the Italians, chasing them through their first flight.

“To see a USAF IP alongside an Aussie jet with an Italian partner getting his first flight is seeing the vision for the program come to fruition. It is a great day for the F-35 and a big milestone for our team,” said Squadron Leader Nathan Draper, Australian Participant Maintenance Liaison Officer, in a U.S. Air Force press release.

According to the 56th FW, the pilots began the academic training phase on Sept. 21, which involved approximately 90 days of classroom and simulator instruction under the supervision of the 56th Training Squadron prior to them stepping to the jet.


First ever swing role course on the T-346 prepares Italian Air Force pilots to the Typhoon and Tornado

The Italian Air Force has recently begun training its first Eurofighter and Tornado pilots on the Alenia Aermacchi T-346A at Lecce airbase, in southeastern Italy.

At the beginning of September, the Italian Air Force has launched the very first training course on the T-346A (M-346 “Master”) at 61° Stormo (Wing) based at Lecce-Galatina.

The course, that started 6 months ahead of schedule, is a swing role class held by 212° Gruppo (Squadron) and attended by four Italian pilots who will convert to the Typhoon and Tornado combat fleets upon successful completion of the training, which aims to develop the information management and aircraft handling skills of future pilots before they are assigned to the OCUs (Operational Conversion Units).

M-346 air-to-air two

The four Italian pilots will be trained for 9 months in accordance with a new “experimental syllabus” designed by the squadron’s Instructor Pilots (IPs) in the last months and currently based on 170 training events, 50 percent of those carried out in flight and the remaining 50 percent in the simulator.

In fact, with the “Master,” the training syllabus can be split 50-50 between ground and air segment: half of the flight hours is flown in the simulator and the remaining half is flown on the actual plane with a significant cost reduction. Indeed, thanks to an integrated training system (ITS), student pilots can attend ground lessons and practice the training missions in extremely realistic simulators several times before their knowledge and skills are evaluated by an IP, both at the sim and in flight.

M-346 break

The T-346A is a LIFT (Lead-In Fighter Trainer) with impressive performance, cutting edge human-machine interface and a lot of interesting technologies such as a full digital cockpit, HOTAS (Hands On Throttle And Stick) commands, carefree handling, VCI (Vocal Control Inputs), a Helmet Mounted Display as well as the ability to simulate the flight characteristics of other aircraft and to replicate a wide array of sensors and weapons as if these were actually installed on the aircraft.

The plane itself is just the air segment of the ITS that includes ground-based facilities, academics, simulators, and mission planning and debriefing stations developed to fill the gap between the flight schools and the operational unit and to prepare the pilots to operate Gen. 4th and 5th multirole aircraft in high-threat/high performance environments.

M-346 Simulator

Indeed, while current pilots are being prepared for the Typhoon or Tornado aircraft, in the near future, courses will be aimed at training attendees destined to the F-35 Lightning II.

Besides the Italians, pilots from the Royal Netherlands Air Force, are going to undertake the LIFT course with the T-346A at Lecce, along with the Polish Air Force pilots whose first of 16 pilots will start training on the Master with the ItAF in November.

The Polish Air Force is expected to take delivery of the first of 8 M-346A, selected in 2014, by the second half of 2016.

M-346 air-to-air

Video: F-35Cs land aboard USS Eisenhower to continue Joint Strike Fighter Developmental Testing at sea

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.

With these two arrested landings the carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter has begun the second phase of Developmental Testing  (DT-II).

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.