Naval Air Systems Command would like to remind you that the F-35C Lightning II is doing just terrific, thank you so much. NavAir announced Tuesday that its C-model test jets are meeting or beating their test goals for this year, and the Navy's new jet is on the glide slope for the next phase of testing.
As of May 11, F-35C test aircraft CF-1 currently at Naval Air Station Patuxent River has completed 36 test flights, nearly half of 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.”So it sounds like the Cs are burning up the sky down there at Pax River, but it's one thing for a jet to take off and land on a traditional runway, even if it's simulating a carrier deck. It's quite another to shoot down the bow on a steam cat or crash to a halt on the three wire. Skeptics in and outside the Navy may reserve their judgment on the C until they see it work its way through cyclic flight ops at sea.
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. And so far this month, the integrated test team has completed seven CF-1 test flights.
“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.