Final test flight for F-35 strike fighters

The F-35 programme has accomplished the final developmental test flight of the System Development and Demonstration phase – an 11-year odyssey for the new strike fighters.

Fleet Air Arm and RAF crews are preparing around the clock to deliver the first F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters – the striking power of the nation’s two new aircraft carriers – to their new home at RAF Marham in East Anglia.

The testing has seen more than 9,200 flights, accumulating more than 17,000 flight hours, for all three variants of the F-35.

The final development flight, which was carried out by former Royal Navy pilot Peter ‘Wizzer’ Wilson, occurred at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, when US Navy test aircraft CF-2 completed a mission to collect loads data while carrying external 2,000-pound GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munitions and AIM-9X Sidewinder heat-seeking missiles.

The F-35 flight test program represents the most comprehensive, rigorous and the safest developmental flight test program in aviation history,

Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin

More than a thousand development flight test engineers, maintainers, pilots and support personnel took the three variants of the F-35 to their full flight capability 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. 

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

“The results have given the men and women who fly the F-35 great confidence in its transformational capability.”