F-35 Lightning II Shipboard Testing: Phase 2

By Andy Wolfe Posted 18 October 2013

More than 200 members of the F-35 Integrated Test Force from the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, deployed to the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD-1) in August 2013 for the second phase of developmental test sea trials, called DT-II, for the short takeoff/vertical landing variant of the Lightning II, the F-35B. The team deployed with two test F-35Bs, BF-1 and BF-5, for almost three weeks off the East Coast of the United States. Test participants came from Naval Sea Systems Command, or NAVSEA; Naval Air Systems Command, or NAVAIR; Lockheed Martin; BAE Systems; Pratt & Whitney; and several other organizations. The ITF team worked with nearly 1,000 Sailors aboard the Wasp.

The flight tests at sea were critical to clearing the flight envelope to support the Initial Operational Capability trials for the US Marines scheduled for 2015. During the deployment, four F-35B test pilots combined to fly almost 100 short takeoffs and vertical landings between the two aircraft. The flights were made in a variety of conditions that included day and night operations as well as unique crosswind, tailwind, and other dynamic wind-over-deck conditions. The trials expanded the F-35B flight envelope to include internal weapons carriage in a variety of configurations at varying weights and centers of gravity, as well as asymmetric loadings of stores in the aircraft internal weapon bays.

The sea trials also included logistics test and evaluation test points, such as assessing the ease of towing the aircraft in the constrained spaces below deck as well as testing a variety of chaining configurations for the aircraft on deck.

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