The F-35 Flight Test Update in the Volume 27, Number 3 issue of Code One concluded with the first aerial release of an AIM-120 AMRAAM on 19 October 2012. This tenth installment in the series of flight test updates on the F-35 program covers numerous other weapon releases as well as other achievements of the F-35 Integrated Test Force located at Edwards AFB, California, and at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.
20 October 2012: Spin Recovery Chute Tests
F-35A AF-4 completed the first F-35 spin recovery chute taxi deployment test. Lockheed Martin test pilot David Nelson deployed the twenty-eight foot diameter parachute at a speed of sixty-five knots. Nelson flew the system on the aircraft for the first time four days later to evaluate the effects of the mounting fixture of the spin recovery chute on flying qualities.
26 October 2012: AIM-120 Integration
Air Force Maj. Matt Phillips piloted F-35A AF-3 for the first AIM-120 weapon integration flight. The test involved tracking a moving target and simulating launches.
25 October 2012: 1,000th SDD Flight For 2012
Navy Lt. Chris Tabert flew F-35C CF-3 at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, for the 1,000th SDD flight for 2012.
29 October 2012: First High AOA Flight
US government test pilot Vince Caterina flew F-35A AF-4 on its first high angle of attack mission. The aircraft demonstrated acceptable maneuverability at twenty-six and then at thirty degrees angle of attack during this flight. AF-4 was then flown on high-AOA missions five more times on the next five days. The aircraft achieved a maximum angle of attack of fifty degrees. Flights also included angle of attack conditions of -10, 23, 26, 30, 35, 40, and 45 degrees.
29 October 2012: First JSOW Loading
An AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon was fit checked for the first time in the weapon bay of an F-35C. While previous fit checks have been performed on mock-up weapon bays, this test marked the first time a JSOW was installed in an actual F-35. The check was on CF-1 at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.
7 November 2012: 300 Flight Hours For AF-3
Lockheed Martin test pilot Mark Ward was at the controls of F-35A AF-3 when the aircraft achieved 300 flight hours in a two-hour test mission from Edwards AFB, California.
8 November 2012: BF-18 Joins Test Fleet
Navy test pilot Lt. Chris Tabert ferried F-35B BF-18 from Marietta, Georgia, to the F-35 ITF at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, after being ferried by Tabert from Fort Worth, Texas, to Marietta on 5 November.
14 November 2012: Max Altitude
Lockheed Martin test pilot David Nelson flew F-35A AF-4 to the 50,000-foot altitude design limit during a setup for a test run at 45,000 feet. This flight was the first time an F-35 was flown to its maximum altitude.
15 November 2012: First F-35C Weapon Drop
The first weapon pit drop for an F-35C was completed on CF-2 at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. The weapon was a 2,000-pound GBU-31.
Photo by Arnel Parker
28 November 2012: F-35C Completes Weapon Pit Testing
Pit testing required for Block 2B software was completed for F-35C at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.
30 November 2012: CF-5 First Flight
Lockheed Martin test pilot Bill Gigliotti made the first flight of F-35C CF-5. The aircraft is the final System Design and Development, or SDD, test aircraft.
30 November 2012: Longest Hover
BAE test pilot Peter Wilson was at the controls of F-35B BF-1 as it hovered for ten minutes—the longest hover duration of an F-35B to date. The flight occurred at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.
3 December 2012: 200th Vertical Landing
Marine Corps Maj. C.R. Clift was at the controls of F-35B BF-1 for its 200th vertical landing. The flight occurred at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.
3 December 2012: First GBU-12 Release
Navy test pilot Lt. Cdr. Michael Burks completed the first airborne release of an inert GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb from an F-35B. Burks, flying BF-3, released the weapon over the Atlantic Test Ranges while traveling at Mach 0.8 at approximately 5,000-feet altitude. The flight originated from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.
4 December 2012: First Intentional Departure
Lockheed Martin test pilot David Nelson flew F-35A AF-4 for the first intentional departure from controlled flight as part of the high angle of attack testing being performed at the Air Force Test Center at Edwards AFB, California. The highest angle of attack observed during this test was seventy-three degrees.
5 December 2012: First F-35B Night STOVL
Marine Corps test pilot Maj. Richard Rusnok completed a series of night STOVL missions in F-35B BF-4 from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. The missions included the first night hover.
7 December 2012: First High AOA Flight With External Stores
Lockheed Martin test pilot David Nelson flew F-35A AF-4 for the first high AOA flight with external stores. The flight was also the 150th mission for AF-4. The stores included pylons on Stations 2, 3, 9, and 10 and AIM-9X missiles on Stations 1 and 11. The aircraft was also carrying a GBU-31 and two AIM-120s in its internal weapon bays.
7 December 2012: 1,000th STOVL Flight
Marine Corps Maj. C. R. Clift piloted BF-1 for the 1,000th STOVL flight for the F-35 SDD program. The flight occurred at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.
8 December 2012: 300th CATBird Flight
Lockheed Martin pilot Ed Delehant flew the Cooperative Avionics Test Bed, or CATBird CATB, for the 300th flight of the aircraft. CATBird is used to test mission systems for the F-35.
11 December 2012: BF-4 Flies With Live Countermeasures
Marine Corps Maj. C. R. Clift flew BF-4 for the first time carrying live countermeasures. The aircraft surpassed 200 total flight hours on the same flight.
11 December 2012: CF-5 Goes To Pax
F-35C CF-5, the last F-35 produced under the SDD contract and the seventeenth aircraft delivered for the SDD fleet, is ferried from Fort Worth, Texas, to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, by Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Burks.
18 December 2012: Supersonic Rolls With Doors Open
US government test pilot Vince Catarina flew AF-1 at Mach 1.2 in a flying qualities mission that included 360-degree rolls with open weapon bay doors.
31 December 2012: Test Fleet Totals
The F-35 test fleet ended 2012 completing 1,167 flights and more than 9,300 test points—the highest annual total of flights and hours for the program.
18 January 2013: Two-Ship F-35C Tanking
F-35C CF-1 and CF-2 take on fuel from a KC-130 tanker during a test flight on 18 January 2013 from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. The flight marked the first time two F-35Cs aerial refueled at the same time. Navy Lt. Chris Tabert flew CF-1 for the mission. Lockheed Martin test pilot Dan Canin flew CF-2.
22 January 2013: F-35A Flutter Envelope Cleared
Air Force Lt. Col. Brent Reinhardt flew AF-1 to complete full envelope clean wing flutter testing with weapon bay doors opened and closed for the F-35A variant. The final test runs were at 700 knots at low altitude with weapon bay doors opened and closed.
28 January 2013: CF-2 Surpasses 300 Flight Hours
BAE test pilot Peter Wilson flew F-35C CF-2 beyond 300 flight hours during a test mission that originated from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.
5 March 2013: BF-17 To Edwards
Lockheed Martin test pilot Bill Gigliotti delivered F-35B BF-17 to the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards AFB, California, on 5 March 2013. The aircraft is to be used at the ITF for mission systems testing.
23 March 2013: F-35B Slow Landing With External Stores
BAE test pilot Peter Wilson performed the first slow landing in an F-35B with external stores. The flight—BF-1 loaded with a centerline gun pod and six wing pylons, including two pylons loaded with AIM-9X missiles—occurred at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.
26 March 2013: F-35B Weapon Separations
Navy Lt. Cdr. Michael Burks piloted BF-3 for the first AIM-120 AMRAAM separation test from an F-35B. The flight originated from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. Two days later, Burks completed the second weapon separation—this time with a 1,000-pound GBU-32. This test was followed the next day with a GBU-12 separation test.
Eric Hehs is the editor of Code One.