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F-35B flight testing
Testing is going exceedingly well for this first round of sea trials

The F-35 Lightning II program has been long delayed and is well over budget. One of the most problem-plagued versions of the program is the F-35B that the Marine Corps will fly. The F-35B is the STOVL version of the fighter aircraft designed to operate from amphibious assault ships.
 
The F-35B has hit another very important milestone in its flight-testing program as it is now undergoing sea trials. F-35B test aircraft BF-04 is at sea on the Wasp amphibious assault ship and has so far flown 60 of the 67 required sorties in this round of testing at sea. 
 
On October 18, the vertical landing capability of the aircraft was shown off for the first time in front of a gathering of reporters. Test pilot Marine Col. Roger Cordell stated, "We feel like we're running when we intended to crawl." 
 
In the beginning of the sea trials, the flight team started with the same envelope that was approved for flying the existing AV-8B Harrier the F-35B is replacing. After successful testing, the team expanded the flight envelope for the F-35B and went up to landing in 30 knots of headwind and down to 10 knots of headwind. The team also flew the jet with a 15-degree crosswind.
 
Marine Lt. Col. Matt Kelly is also helping with flight tests. He added, "I have found this airplane to be just a really nice airplane to fly in the shipboard environment. Prior to two weeks ago, I had never landed or taken-off from this type of ship… It's a pleasure to fly."
 
The test program is not only testing the aircraft, it is also testing the ship. The Wasp had to be extensively modified with sensors for the flight test program. The ship also had to have some equipment moved and some antennas removed to clear the greater wingspan of the F-35B compared to the Harrier.

After this round of sea trials, more will commence early next year with additional trials to take place in August of 2013.

Source: Defense News





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