F-35s Surpass 100,000 Flight Hours, System Development and Demonstration on Track
FORT WORTH, Texas — The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft fleet recently exceeded 100,000 flight hours while the F-35 Integrated Test Force teams are completing the remaining requirements in the program’s System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase, the company said in a July 24 release.
“This 100K milestone marks a significant level of maturity for the program and the F-35 weapons system,” said Jeff Babione, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager. “We are well positioned to complete air vehicle full 3F and mission systems software development by the end of 2017.”
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 multiship mission effectiveness tests, such as Offensive Counter-Air and Maritime Interdiction, demonstrating the performance of the F-35 System.
Three variants of the F-35 Lightning II will replace the F-16 Fighting Falcon and A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 Hornet for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for 11 other countries, to date. Following the U.S. Marine Corps’ July 2015 combat-ready Initial Operational Capability (IOC) declaration, the U.S. Air Force attained service IOC on August 2016 and the U.S. Navy F-35C will IOC in 2019.