An F-35 Lightning II has endured extreme weather temperatures to certify the capability of the Joint Strike Fighter to deploy to any place of the world.
An F-35B, a STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter jet, from the F-35 Patuxent River Integrated Test Force in Maryland has undergone extreme weather testing at the U.S. Air Force 96th Test Wing’s McKinley Climatic Laboratory located at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida according to a release by Lockheed Martin.
The testing is aimed to validate the capability of the plane to operate in the meteorological conditions representative of all the locations from which the aircraft is going to operate: from the Australian Outback and the U.S. deserts, to the Arctic Circle, above Canada and Norway.
The F-35B has been ferried to Eglin AFB in September 2014 and it is expected to remain at the airbase in Florida until March 2015: a six month assessment of the Joint Strike Fighter’s performance in wind, solar radiation, fog, humidity, rain intrusion/ingestion, freezing rain, icing cloud, icing build-up, vortex icing and snow.
According to F-35 test pilot Billie Flynn, the aircraft is being pushed to its environmental limits, ranging from 120 degrees to -40 degrees Fahrenheit (49 to – 40 degrees Celsius) and so far it has met expectations.
The press release comes few weeks after an Air Force press release, reported that fuel trucks at Luke Air Force Base, in Arizona, where temperature can reach beyond 110° F (43° C) in summer months, were given a new look, by applying a two layer coating, dubbed “solar polyurethane enamel”, in order to prevent fuel stored in the tanks from over-heating: the Lightning II engine has a fuel temperature threshold and may suffer shutdowns if the fuel is delivered to it at high temperature.
Image credit:Michael D. Jackson, F-35 Integrated Test Force
F-35 aircraft from the 61st Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona have done their first flyover at the 2015 NFL Pro Bowl.
On Jan. 25, the F-35s belonging to the 56th Fighter Wing from Luke Air Force Base performed the first ever Lightining II aircraft flyover opening the 2015 NFL Pro Bowl game at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona at 6.00 PM LT.
According to one of our readers, “Cougar”, “Jeb”, “Merc”, and “CATA” are the nicknames of the Joint Strike Fighter pilots of the 61 FS who performed the flyover.
Here below you can see one of the pilots preparing to strap in the cockpit.
Here’s the patch the 56th FW has produced to celebrate the event:
Here below is the video of the flyover, officially released by the U.S. Air Force.
Among the several units hosted by the airbase near Las Vegas, there is the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, whose aim is to develop and test new tactics to employ weapons systems in combat.
The unit operates a fleet of A/OA-10, F-15C, F-15E, F-16CM, F-22 and F-35 aircraft.
Dealing with the Joint Strike Fighter, the 422nd TES is involved in development evaluation and supports the initial operational test to determine how to integrate the F-35 with other assets in the U.S. Air Force inventory.
The images in this post were taken at Nellis AFB in the morning on Jan. 12. They show some of the flying activity on an ordinary day at Nellis, including F-35s, F-16 Vipers and F-15E Strike Eagles assigned to the 422nd TES (with tail code “OT”) taking off for missions inside the NTTR (Nevada Test & Training Range), as well as the Thunderbirds demo team performing their daily training sortie.
The 422nd TES works closely with the USAF Weapons School, also headquartered at Nellis.
The School’s mission is to teach graduate-level instructor courses, which provide advanced training in weapons and tactics employment to officers of the combat air forces.
Top image shows an F-35A, at Edwards AFB, California,nexto to its F-35 Systems Development and Demonstration Weapons Suite the aircraft is designed to carry.
According to Lockheed Martin, the Joint Strike Fighter can carry more than 35-hundred pounds of ordinance in Low Observable (stealth) mode and over 18-thousand pounds uncontested.
The Lightning II is conducting testing required for full weapons certification through a campaign which included validating 2B weapons software and successfully executing several weapons separation and engagement tests.
“Comprehensive flight test on the F-35A variant GAU-22 25mm gun system is scheduled to begin mid-year at Edwards AFB, Calif., and will include ground fire tests, muzzle calibration, flight test integration and in-flight operational tests. The 25mm missionized gun pod carried externally, centerline mounted on the F-35B and F-35C also begins testing this year to meet U.S. service’s desired schedule for full warfighting capability software known as 3F. The 3F software is currently planned for delivery with the Low Rate Initial Production nine (LRIP 9) U.S. aircraft in 2017,” Lockheed Martin team say in a press release.
Among the most recent tests there is the first separation test of a GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb, a 250-lb. precision-guided glide weapon (Oct. 21) and multi-separation test (Nov. 20); first external flutter tests flown with the AIM-132 Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) (Oct. 29) and Paveway IV missiles (Nov. 13); and the first supersonic-guided missile launch and the first JDAM release on target coordinates generated from the Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) (Nov. 18-25 ).
RAF Lakenheath was selected as the first base to host USAFE F-35s.
The Pentagon has announced a large reorganization of U.S. Air Force units across Europe on Jan. 8.
As a consequence of the consolidation plan, 15 installations in the Old Continent will be closed: among them RAF Mildenhall, one of the busiest airfield in the UK, whose tankers and special operations planes will be moved to Germany. RC-135 Rivet Joint jets currently based there will remain in the UK.
Each of the squadrons will receive 24 F-35s, totaling 48 aircraft assigned to RAF Lakenheath once full mission capability is achieved.
“Lakenheath is the perfect base for the perfect weapon system in the perfect country,” said Col. Robert Novotny, 48th Fighter Wing commander in press release published on the Air Force website. “From the beginning, the United States and the United Kingdom have been side-by-side on F-35 program development. This is about continuing to work together with our allies and partners to ensure a secure future for Europe.”