Naval Air Systems Command announced May 17 that the test aircraft for the carrier variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter have exceeded test and evaluation program goals so far this year.
According to the announcement, the F-35C test aircraft, ‘CF-1,’ currently at Naval Air Station Patuxent River has completed 36 test flights as of May 11, nearly half the program’s goal for the year of 85.
“CF-1’s been flying well, even with a number of planned and unplanned maintenance periods,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Roger Cordell, military site director. “It’s a great sign for the fleet that the aircraft is doing well so early in the test program.”
In April, CF-1 completed 13 flights, tying a record for the number of test flights for any aircraft at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Additionally, the integrated test team has completed seven CF-1 test flights this month.
“The team has been doing a great job staying on top of maintenance requirements,” said Jim McClendon, Lockheed Martin site director vice president. “Just last week, CF-1 flew six flights in six days, which is a great accomplishment in any test program, let alone test and evaluation for a brand new aircraft.”
Coupled with this week’s arrival of the second carrier variant, CF-2, and arrival of CF-3 later this year, the F-35C test program is making rapid progress toward initial carrier suitability testing this year at Joint Base Lakehurst-McGuire-Dix in New Jersey.
First carrier suitability testing this summer is scheduled to include the first catapult launches, and the F-35C is scheduled to commence shipboard testing in 2013.
The F-35C is the carrier variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, with larger wing control surfaces and reinforced landing gear to operate in the maritime environment. The F-35C is undergoing test and evaluation to evaluate flutter, loads and mission systems at NAS Patuxent River prior to eventual delivery to the fleet.