Military Aviation

F-35’s FLEET SURPASSES 100,000 FLIGHT HOURS

Meanwhile the F-35 Integrated Test Force teams are completing the remaining requirements in the program’s SDD phase

The Lockheed Martin F-35’s fleet recently exceeded 100,000 flight hours, the company announced in a press release on Jul. 24, 2017.

Meanwhile the F-35 Integrated Test Force teams are completing the remaining requirements in the program’s System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase.

“This 100K milestone marks a significant level of maturity for the program and the F-35 weapons system,” said Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President and F-35 Program General Manager Jeff Babione. “We are well positioned to complete air vehicle full 3F and mission systems software development by the end of 2017.”

Noteworthy the remaining development flight testing includes validating the final release of 3F software, F-35B ski jump testing, F-35B austere site operations, high-Mach Loads testing for both the F-35B and F-35C and completion of the remaining weapons delivery accuracy tests.

Major SDD fleet test milestones in recent months include:

– Completed testing for the F-35A’s final envelope involving high risk ‘edge of the envelope’ maneuvers, stressing the aircraft to its limits in structural strength, vehicle systems performance, and aerodynamics while proving excellent handling qualities.

– Completed all U.K. Weapon Delivery Accuracy tests for the AIM-132 ASRAAM and Paveway IV weapons, and completed 45 of 50 SDD Weapon Delivery Accuracy tests including multiple target and multiple shot engagements as well as internal gun and centerline external pod 25mm gun accuracy tests.

– Performed multi-ship mission effectiveness tests, such as Offensive Counter-Air and Maritime Interdiction, demonstrating the performance of the F-35 System.

As we have already explained F-35 Lightning II, which is the result of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program, has been originally designed to replace aging fighter inventories including U.S. Air Force (USAF) F-16s and A-10s, U.S. Navy F/A-18s, U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) AV-8B Harriers and F/A-18s, and U.K. Tornados, Harrier GR.7s and Sea Harriers. Three JSF variants have been developed to fulfill this difficult task: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier-based Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) variant.

Following the U.S. Marine Corps’ July 2015 combat-ready Initial Operational Capability (IOC) declaration, the U.S. Air Force attained service IOC in Aug. 2016 and the U.S. Navy will IOC in 2019.

Photo credit: Andy “Bones” Wolfe and Jonathan Case / Lockheed Martin

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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