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

Jan 30 2015 - 15 Comments

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

 

  • R.Lopaka

    Have they shot the FROZEN chickens at it yet?

    • R.Lopaka

      I mean the Brits.

  • Clive Ocna

    Why amazing and WHAT’s amazing. Planes get frozen all the time!

  • WTF

    The same goes for F/A-18’s flown by Finland

  • big john ok

    I read an article it may have been on this site about the F-35 having issues with warm jet fuel or something. Basically the air force had to repaint some of the fuel trucks to help keep the gas cooler. /sarcasm yep this is an all climate deployable aircraft.

  • Pooter Bilbo

    You being in denial isn’t going to change the facts. The F-35 is coming whether you like it or not. Far too much money has been poured into the program to cut and run now, and as the years go by, legacy fighters are becoming increasingly more difficult and expensive to update and maintain.

    This year, the entire USAF F-16 pilot training pipeline was stopped temporarily because they found structural fatigue cracks in 82 aircraft that were severe enough to require a custom designed lockheed bandaid fix. The air force’s F-15’s are so old that in recent years crew chiefs have had to develop entirely new procedures to deal with the incredible amount of oil leakage through the aging fuselage. I can’t speak to the navy and marines, but I’m sure their old aircraft are having the same problems.

    As for the A-10, everyone loves to rave about the Hog’s effectiveness in close air support, but guess how much of the CAS in afghanistan is actually being done by A-10’s.. around 20%. The fact is that Afghanistan is huge (about the size of Texas) and the A-10 is so slow that it can’t respond in a timely manner to a TIC (troops in contact), so F-16’s, Strike Eagles and B-1’s have been doing the vast majority of the work. I’m not trying to disparage the A-10, it has had a great run and is incredibly good in a very niche role. But shrinking budgets just don’t have room for single mission aircraft anymore. What you might not realize is that every time an A-10 squadron gets deployed somewhere with contested airspace, you need to deploy air-to-air platforms to establish air superiority before the A-10’s ever even enter the fight. Or instead you can deploy strike eagles who can fight their way in, drop bombs, and fight their way out. What do you think is the more efficient option?

    Look, it’s perfectly understandable to become attached to certain airframes. Lord knows I’ll be an emotional wreck the day the F-15 gets retired for good. But progress isn’t made by spending the next 30 years stubbornly updating aircraft that were designed in the 1970’s. If someone with a mentality like that was in charge we’d be mounting AESA radars to P-51 Mustangs. At some point you just have to let things go and accept the fact that after 40 years, we can probably build something better.

    The last thing I’ll say is this. There’s no denying that the F-35 program has had massive cost overruns, delays, and technical problems. But there’s also no denying almost every great legacy fighter program also had massive cost overruns, delays, and technical problems. The only difference is that when the legacy fighters were being developed, the internet didn’t exist. And without the internet, there wasn’t a forum for every armchair military acquisitions strategist to peanut gallery the development process with their misinformed opinions.

    • milomonkey

      “Lord knows I’ll be an emotional wreck the day the F-15 gets retired for good”

      are you mentally insane ? people got emotional when they lost their loved ones.. human beings… not some aircraft that you never even touched in your whole life..

      stop this military equipment worship and idolization.. it is embarassing.. you are behaving like a kid who loved his toys so much you can’t face reality ..

      • Pooter Bilbo

        That’s wasn’t really the focus of my comment. If you’re really going to cherry pick one line and call my sanity into question, I might be tempted to do the same regarding your maturity.

  • Pooter Bilbo

    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.

    • milomonkey

      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..

      • Pooter Bilbo

        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.

        • NR Taylor

          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!

  • milomonkey

    and the stealthy F35 will lost it’s stealth if it is exposed to weather like that…

    • Pooter Bilbo

      ..as would any other stealth fighter. So what exactly is your point?

      • NR Taylor

        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!