20 Apr 2018

F-35 completes final developmental test flight

The F-35 program has accomplished the final developmental test flight of the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the program.

The final SDD flight took place at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland and saw Navy test aircraft CF-2 complete a mission to collect loads data while carrying external 2,000-pound GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) and AIM-9X Sidewinder heat-seeking missiles.

More than 1,000 SDD flight test engineers, maintainers, pilots and support personnel took the three variants of the F-35 to their full flight envelope to test aircraft performance and flying qualities.  The test team conducted six at-sea detachments and performed more than 1,500 vertical landing tests on the F-35B variant.

The developmental flight test team completed 183 Weapon Separation Tests; 46 Weapons Delivery Accuracy tests; 33 Mission Effectiveness tests, which included numerous multi-ship missions of up to eight F-35s against advanced threats.

Developmental flight test is a key component of the F-35 program’s SDD phase, which will formally be completed following an Operational Test and Evaluation and a Department of Defense decision to go into full-rate aircraft production.

While SDD required flight test is now complete, F-35 flight testing continues in support of phased capability improvements and modernization of the F-35 air system.

Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and general manager of the F-35 program, said: “The F-35 flight test program represents the most comprehensive, rigorous and the safest developmental flight test program in aviation history.

“The joint government and industry team demonstrated exceptional collaboration and expertise, and the results have given the men and women who fly the F-35 great confidence in its transformational capability.”

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