Amazing shots of a frozen F-35 Lightning II jet during all-weather climatic testing

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.

Climatic Testing; Solar Array hoist, set up and lighting test over BF-05.

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.

BF-05 Ice Cloud Calibration and Teams.

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, F35 Integrated Test Force


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. That’s great for the gripen, but the F-35’s combination of stealth, avionics, EW suite, and weapons will be able to mop the floor with a gripen. Sure, some of these advanced features might make the F-35 slightly more susceptible to arctic blizzards. But luckily, most of the participating countries (except maybe norway and canada) will not be basing F-35’s anywhere near the arctic.

    • F-35 couldn’t even won a mock dogfight with 2 seater F-16 with wing tanks , and you fantasize it can win a dogfight with a Gripen ? Stop smoking that weed..

      • I’m afraid it’s you that nees to stop smoking weed. The F-35 vs. F-16 “dogfight” that you’re referencing was operational testing to continue the development for the control logic and electronic limits for the air frame. Any assertion that the “dogfight” is damning proof of the F-35’s inferiority is misinformed sensationalism.

        • As the F-35 gets thermal equipment + fire safety equipment + thicker parts to prevent structural cracks = only getting heavier! The F-35 will remain below the F-16/Gripen/Typhoon/Rafale/F-15/F-18 in terms of agility!

      • The point is why use a performance/cost compromised jet (stealth design is the compromise!), when other modern jets can do the job better AND cheaper!

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