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F-35 program continues to mature — which is good news for Florida

By on July 12, 2012

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Flight Test Program is possibly more significant to the State of Florida than many may realize. It accounts for 12,700 Florida jobs, has an annual impact of $1.5 billion dollars, and brings all pilots to train at Eglin Airforce Base in Florida.

Therefore, Florida has a vested interest in the success of this program, and the Lockheed Martin F-35 Flight Test Progress Report seems to be telling a tale of good news overall. In June, the program accrued the highest number of test points in a single month (1,118)—and experts say that this is a sign of the program’s maturation, along with the fact that for the 18th consecutive month, the program remained ahead of plan.

For instance, by the end of June, the F-35 Lightening II 5th Generation multirole fighter had conducted 595 test flights in 2012 compared to its plan of completing 445 and accrued 4,830 test points compared to its plan of 3,901.

In June, the F-35 program accomplished several flight test and production milestones such as the BF-5 becoming the first F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing jet to fly with Block 2A software. (A complete listing of reported accomplishments is listed below.)

Overall, the program is making great progress. Since December 2006, F-35s have flown 2,355 times and accrued more than 3,700 cumulative flight hours. This total includes 91 flights from the original test aircraft, AA-1; 2,023 SDD test flights; and 241 production-model flights. For video highlights of the F-35 program, click here.

Lockheed Martin F-35 Flight Test Progress Report achievements:

  • During June, the F-35 test program accrued the most test points in a single month, 1,118, in program history.
  • On June 5, BF-5 became the first F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) jet to fly with Block 2A software.
  • On June 13, the first F-35C carrier variant (CV) night flight was completed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.
  • On June 13, F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) weapons pit drop testing was conducted for the first time at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
  • On June 14 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., BF-2 completed the first test flight for the F-35B STOVL variant with an asymmetric weapons load.
  • On June 25, AF-1, an F-35A CTOL test jet, accomplished the first F-35 weapon pit drop from an external station, a GBU-12 from station 2.
  • On June 27, the program achieved the highest number of F-35 flights in a single day, 12.

Cumulative flight test activity totals for 2012 through June 30 are provided below:

  • F-35A CTOL jets have flown 260 times.
  • F-35B STOVL jets have completed 202 flights, 134 of which began with a short takeoff. Additionally, F-35B STOVL aircraft have conducted 55 vertical landings.
  • F-35C CV jets have flown 133 times.

Cumulative flight test activity totals for the duration of the program through May 31 are provided below:

  • F-35A CTOL jets have flown 907 times.
  • F-35B STOVL jets have completed 791 flights, 553 of which began with a short takeoff. Additionally, F-35B STOVL aircraft have conducted 334 vertical landings.
  • F-35C CV jets have flown 325 times.

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