The F-35 Flight Test Update in the Volume 28, Number 1 issue of Code One concluded with the first aerial release of an AIM-120 AMRAAM from an F-35B on 26 March 2013.
This eleventh installment in the series of flight test updates on the F-35 program covers the AIM-120 launch as well as other achievements of the F-35 Integrated Test Force located at Edwards AFB, California, and at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.
2 April 2013: First Night Vertical Landing
Marine Corps Maj. C. R. Clift completed the first vertical landing at night in an F-35. The mission, at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, was performed in F-35B BF-4.
3 April 2013: F-35C Maximum Mach
Marine Corps Capt. Mike Kingen took an F-35C to Mach 1.6 for the first time during a flight from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. Mach 1.6 is the top design speed for the F-35C.
9 April 2013: First F-35A GBU-12 Separation
Air Force Lt. Col. Jon Ohman performed the first GBU-12 separation test in an F-35A. The weapon was released from the left weapon bay of F-35A AF-1 flying over the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Center ranges.
10 April 2013: 300 Flights For AF-1
Air Force Lt. Col. Peter Vitt flew F-35A AF-1 on its 300th flight. The mission involved a successful GBU-31 separation test over the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Center ranges.
10 April 2013: Two Firsts At Night
Air Force Capt. Eric Schultz flew F-35A AF-7 in the first night Instrument Meteorological Conditions flight test. The IMC mission, from Edwards AFB, California, also included the first hot pit refueling for an F-35 at night.
11 April 2013: Link 16 Connectivity
Air Force Lt. Col. Jon Ohman flew BF-17 for the first F-35 link with an AWACS aircraft, successfully exchanging Link 16 messages during a multiship flight that included an E-3 Sentry, multiple F-16s, and multiple F/A-18E/Fs.
18 April 2013: 500 Flights For F-35C
The F-35C fleet completed the 500th System Design and Development flight during a mission that included formation flying with Navy Lt. Cdr. Michael Burks flying CF-5 and Lockheed Martin test pilot Dan Canin flying CF-2.
26 April 2013: BF-18 Arrives At Edwards
Royal Air Force Sqn. Ldr. James Schofield delivered F-35B BF-18 to the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards AFB, California. The aircraft is to be used at the ITF for Mission System testing. BF-18 was ferried from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, by way of Fort Worth, Texas.
29 April 2013: First High Asymmetric Load
Lockheed Martin test pilot Mark Ward flew F-35A AF-2 for the first high asymmetric load flight test on an F-35. The load consisted of an AIM-120 on Station 7; a GBU-31 on Station 8; an AIM-9X on Station 11; and weapon pylons on Stations 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, and 10. The load equated to 15,000 foot-pounds asymmetry.
2 May 2013: Most SDD Flights In One Day
The F-35 test program flew eleven flights in one day to set a new record. The flights consisted of five for F-35A, four for F-35B, and two for F-35C.
3 May 2013: First Dual AIM-120 Carriage
Air Force Lt. Col. Peter Vitt flew F-35A AF-6 for the first mission that included two AIM-120 missiles. The flight occurred from Edwards AFB, California.
10 May 2013: 5k Flight Hours
The F-35 SDD fleet surpassed 5,000 flight hours.
13 May 2013: 400th Vertical Landing
Marine Corps Maj. C. R. Clift flew BF-4 in a test that marked the 400th vertical landing of an F-35B during SDD. The flight occurred from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.
16 May 2013: Three-Ship MADL Connection
F-35As AF-3, AF-6, and AF-7 demonstrated the first three-ship connectivity for the Multi-Functional Advanced Datalink, or MADL, during ground operations at Edwards AFB, California.
20 May 2013: 100 Flights For CF-3
Marine Corps Lt. Col. Patrick Moran was at the controls for Flight 100 of F-35C CF-3.
28 May 2013: First RAF Vertical Landing
Sqn. Ldr. James Schofield, flying F-35B BF-1 on Flight 296, performed the first vertical landing for an RAF pilot at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.
31 May 2013: 200 Flights For CF-2
Lockheed Martin test pilot Dan Canin was at the controls for Flight 200 of F-35C CF-2.
4 June 2013: 300 Flights For BF-1
BAE test pilot Peter Wilson was at the controls for Flight 300 of F-35B BF-1.
5 June 2013: AIM-120 Launch
Air Force Lt. Col. George Schwartz flew F-35A AF-1 for the first powered AIM-120 air-to-air missile launch from an F-35. The missile was released from the internal weapon bay of the F-35. The flight originated from the Air Force Test Center at Edwards AFB, California. The launch occurred over the Point Mugu Sea Test Range off the California coast.
6 June 2013: Test Tow
F-35C CF-3 was used for a heavyweight ground tow test at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division test facility at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. The aircraft was fitted with four 2,000-pound GBU-31 guided bombs on its external pylons. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tony Wilson was in the cockpit during the test.
14 June 2013: Four- And Five-Ship MADL Connection
AF-6, AF-7, BF-17, and BF-18 were used to complete the first F-35 airborne four-ship MADL connection at Edwards AFB, California. The airborne four-ship also achieved MADL connectivity with AF-3 during its ground test, marking the first five-ship MADL connection.
20 June 2013: F-35C CF-8 First Flight
Lockheed Martin test pilot Bill Gigliotti flew the first flight of F-35C CF-8 (US Navy Bureau Number 168735). Takeoff and landing occurred at NAS Fort Worth JRB, Texas. CF-8 is scheduled to join the test fleet at Edwards AFB, California, later in 2013.
9 July 2013: GBU-31 Milestone Completed
Air Force Maj. Mark Massaro completed the last GBU-31 separation test required as part of the process for releasing 2B software for the F-35A fleet. The flight occurred with AF-1 at Edwards AFB, California.
11 July 2013: First F-35B Night Aerial Refueling
Marine Corps Lt. Col. Patrick Moran flew the first night aerial refueling mission in an F-35B. The mission, from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, was Flight 265 for BF-2. The tanker was a US Air Force KC-10.
16 July 2013: Supersonic AIM-120 Launch
Air Force Maj. Matt Phillips flew AF-1 to complete an AIM-120 launch at Mach 1.2. This flight was the first supersonic and second overall AIM-120 launch for the F-35 program.
22 July 2013: 200 Flights For BF-4
Navy Lt. Cdr. Michael Wilson was at the controls for Flight 200 of F-35B BF-4.
24 July 2013: AIM-120 Milestone
Marine Corps Maj. Richard Rusnok was at the controls of F-35A AF-1 to complete the third and final AIM-120 launch required as part of the process for releasing 2B software to the F-35A fleet.
24 July 2013: First KC-135 Aerial Refuel For F-35B
The first strategic tanking test with an F-35B and a KC-135 with wingtip hose and drogue refueling capability was carried out on the range near NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. The test was strictly a contact test in which no fuel was transferred. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Patrick Moran was at the controls of F-35 BF-2 on Flight 266. The KC-135 came from McConnell AFB, Kansas.
31 July 2013: 200 Flights For AF-3
Air Force Maj. Matt Phillips was at the controls for Flight 200 of F-35A AF-3.
3 August 2013: 500th Vertical Landing
Navy Capt. Michael Kingen completed the 500th vertical landing of an F-35B when he landed F-35B BF-1 on Flight 315 at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.