Defense Tech friend and F-35 Joint Striker Fighter program watcher Bob Cox says a recent jump in the number of flight tests show that development of the combat jet may be back on track. By the end of last week, the test program had completed 146 flights this year compared to 128 planned.
If the program is able to continue flight tests at that pace, it should reach the year-end goal of 394 flights, says Cox, who has often been critical of the JSF. That would put the F-35 program about where it was supposed to be at the end of 2009. Lockheed has now flown nine of the initial 13 flight testing jets and is prepping the remaining four for flights, Cox reports.
Good news for the F-35 program which has been taking a bit of a beating lately for delays and cost overruns. Yet, as our own Colin Clark reported last week, the F-35 won’t be making the trip to next week’s massive Farnborough Air Show; nobody from the program office will be there either. Is that a big deal? It means a lot more flight testing is needed before the F-35 is ready for such a prime time venue; as they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
“The first time a new military aircraft appears at an air show is always a major news event and is a palpable demonstration to the world that the plane is ready to demonstrate its stuff in front of a potential audience of millions. The F-22 made its first appearance at Farnborough in 2008 and it was the talk of the show.”-- Greg Grant