April marks new F-35 fly­ing records


The Lock­heed Martin F-35 Light­ning II air­craft fleet, which sur­passed 16,000 cu­mu­la­tive pro­gramme flight hours to date in April, flew a monthly record high for Sys­tem De­vel­op­ment and Demon­stra­tion (SDD) with 282 flight hours and 153 flights in April.

“The SDD fleet achiev­ing more than 150 flights in one month speaks to the qual­ity of this air­craft and the com­mit­ment of this team,” said J.D. McFar­lan, Lock­heed Martin’s Vice Pres­i­dent for F-35 Test & Ver­i­fi­ca­tion. “We’re nearly com­plete with Block 2B soft­ware flight sci­ence test­ing on the F-35As, and we’ll move for­ward with Block 3 soft­ware test­ing this sum­mer. The SDD pro­gramme is sched­uled to com­plete Block 2B test­ing for the F-35B this year in sup­port of the US Ma­rine Corps’ ini­tial op­er­a­tional ca­pa­bil­ity (IOC) in 2015 with its F-35B fleet.”

In April, op­er­a­tional F-35s fleet-wide flew 812 hours, with SDD F-35 air­craft fly­ing 282 flight hours in one month. In 2014, through April, F-35A test air­craft flew 420 hours; F-35B test air­craft flew 281 hours; and F-35C test air­craft flew 222 hours. Op­er­a­tional F-35s of all three vari­ants flew 2,790 hours for the year.

Op­er­a­tional F-35s at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, flew 515 flight hours in April, and op­er­a­tional F-35 at Ma­rine Corps Air Sta­tion Yuma, Ari­zona, flew 172 hours. Eglin’s 33rd Fighter Wing is home to 48 F-35A/B/Cs and pro­vides train­ing for US mil­i­tary and pro­gramme part­ner na­tion pi­lots and main­te­nance per­son­nel. Yuma is home to the Ma­rine Corps’ first op­er­a­tional F-35B short take-off ver­ti­cal land­ing air­craft.

Among the record SDD flights, the F-35B ver­sion com­pleted its 700th ver­ti­cal land­ing, and it be­gan cross­wind take-offs and land­ings and ex­pe­di­tionary op­er­a­tions.

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