F-35B Lightning first-of-class flight trials (fixed wing) (FOCFT[FW]) from the UK Royal Navy (RN) aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth have concluded after completion of a second phase of development testing (DT-2) off the US Eastern Seaboard.
Wrapping up on 18 November, a day ahead of schedule, the DT-2 test period expanded the F-35B operating envelope previously established during the DT-1 period between 25 September and 16 October.
F-35 Integrated Test Force (ITF) aircraft BF-04 and BF-05 – both of which are fully instrumented to enable the collection of flight data – returned to Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Maryland, on 19 November. Queen Elizabeth berthed at Norfolk, Virginia, on 20 November to disembark personnel and test assets from the ITF.
A total of 85 flights were completed across DT-1 and DT-2, amounting to 75 flight hours. The four test pilots embarked collectively completed 202 ski-ramp short take offs, 187 vertical landings, and 15 shipborne rolling vertical landings (SRVLs). A total of 54 inert weapons were dropped during testing.
BF-05 completed the final DT-2 flight test sorties on 18 November. During the morning period the aircraft performed inboard external stores flight qualities/loads test points with tailwind and maximum launch speed, executing shipborne rolling vertical landings (SRVLs) to recover to Queen Elizabeth . Afternoon flying completed the maximum power/minimum performance short take-off testing with four external stores.
Jane’s was told that flight testing achieved all of the DT-1/DT-2 threshold requirements, and a significant portion of the threshold and objective requirements originally planned for next year’s DT-3 phase. “This ship was built specifically for the F-35B,” said Commodore Mike Utley, commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group. “So we are seeing a lot of rapid gain in our operating envelopes because the two have been modelled together. We are well through next year’s trials right now because we’ve been able to really put the foot down and get through the different test points.
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