F-35B Goes Supersonic

Photo by Liz Goettee

The F-35B flew faster than the speed of sound for the first time. The aircraft accelerated to Mach 1.07 (727 miles per hour) on the first in a series of planned supersonic flights. BF-2 is the third F-35 to achieve supersonic flight. Two F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variants also have broken the sound barrier.

The supersonic milestone was achieved on the 30th flight of the F-35B known as BF-2. US Marine Corps pilot Lt. Col. Matt Kelly climbed to 30,000 feet and accelerated to Mach 1.07 in the off-shore supersonic test track near NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. Future testing will gradually expand the flight envelope out to the aircraft's top speed of Mach 1.6, which the F-35 is designed to achieve with a full internal weapons load of more than 3,000 pounds. All F-35s are designed to launch internal missiles at maximum supersonic speed as well as launch internal guided bombs supersonically.