The US Marine Corps (USMC) is continuing to develop the tactical operating capabilities of the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), with the first sloped-surface landing announced on 22 January.
Aircraft and personnel from the F-35 Patuxent River Integrated Test Force (ITF) performed vertical landing trials of an F-35B on a specially constructed sloped surface at Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, North Carolina, on 16 January.
As noted by the US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), the trials were focused on simulating expeditionary conditions as the programme moves towards its initial operational test and evaluation phase.
“The [US] Marine Corps is an expeditionary force capable of deploying on short notice to crises around the world – even to the most austere environments, and the F-35 has an exceptional expeditionary capability,” Major Michael Lippert, F-35 Paxuxent River ITF test pilot and detachment officer-in-charge was quoted by NAVAIR as saying.
The ITF’s goal is to ease current sloped surface vertical landing requirements for the F-35B. “We hope to be able to relax the landing pad certification limits in terms of maximum slope/gradients in the context of expeditionary pads – existing and future,” said Bob Nantz, F-35 Paxuxent River ITF Performance/Environmental Technical Specialist.
The Paxuxent River ITF will analyse nearly 200 data test points to assess how well the F-35B operates on varying slopes, the impacts of head and tailwinds, and the effect of aft centre of gravity in conjunction with ground slopes.
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