There are going to be some disappointed aeronautical fans this weekend at the Royal International Air Tattoo in Gloucestershire, UK. The F-35B Lightning II
fighter will not be making its scheduled international public début due to the grounding of the entire F-35 fleet after a runway incident in Florida.
After strapping on its missiles
in February shortly after its first night flight
, the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) version of the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35A, completed its first in-flight weapons release on October 16 in a flight conducted over the China Lake test range in California.
The F-35A is the conventional takeoff and landing version of the Joint Strike Fighter
, intended primarily for the U.S. Air Force short range fighter role. These single-seat single-engine fifth-generation fighters are designed to carry out air defense, ground attack, and recon missions. February 16, 2012 marked the first flight of the F-35A carrying an external load of two Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles. The F-35A also had four additional weapons pylons attached each of which can carry 2000-pound air-to-ground weapons.
Despite criticism in the U.S. regarding escalating costs, which has seen the Pentagon’s bill for a planned 2,443 F-35s going from US$233 billion to $385 billion, Lockheed Martin is pressing ahead with tests of the world’s only fifth generation jet fighter. It’s been over six years since the first F-35 took to the air
for the first time and one and a half years since the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant broke the sound barrier
for the first time. Now the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant has completed the first night flight in the history of the F-35 program.
When it enters service, the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter
will lay claim to the title of the most advanced warplane in the world. Its pilots will have the most advanced helmets as well ... and there's more to it than protecting the pilot's head against knocks. Unfortunately, the gap between designing the helmet and building it has proven wider than originally thought and issues such as poor image quality are so severe that the F35's testing program faces serious delays, so F-35 prime contractor Lockheed Martin brought in BAE Systems to provide a substitute.
The F-35B Joint Strike Fighter (JSF
) has successfully made its first at-sea vertical landing. With Marine Corps test pilot Lt. Col. Fred Schenk at the controls, the short-take-off-vertical -landing (STOVL) variant of the F-35 touched-down on the deck of the USS Wasp on October 3 as part of an initial two week ship-trial period in which the aircraft's take-off and landing capabilities will be evaluated along with its ability to integrate with the ship's flight deck operations.
Eglin Air Force Base has just taken delivery of a piece of hardware that would surely be the ultimate toy for flight sim gaming fans. The F-35 Lightning II Full Mission Simulator (FMS) system includes a high-fidelity 360-degree visual display system and a reconfigurable cockpit that can simulate all three variants of the F-35 Lightning II
for U.S. and international partner services – the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35A
, the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B
, and the F-35C
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
(JSF) program continues to rack up the milestones with the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant breaking the sound barrier for the first time. The F-35B, which completed its first vertical landing
in March, hit Mach 1.07 (727 miles per hour) in an off-shore test on June 10 and will be put through a series of supersonic flights that will gradually take the aircraft towards its top speed of Mach 1.6. The F-35B STOVL marks the first time in 100 years of military aviation that a plane has combined radar-evading stealth, VTOL and supersonic speed and may go some way towards justifying the program's other milestone achievement of being the most expensive weapons program in military history.