F-35 Lightning II completes first flight

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Captain
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Nov 9, 2005
Cracow
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II lifted into the skies today (december 15 ) for the first time, completing a successful inaugural flight and initiating the most comprehensive flight test program in military aviation history.
"The Lightning II performed beautifully," said F-35 Chief Pilot Jon Beesley following the flight. "What a great start for the flight-test program, and a testimony to the people who have worked so hard to make this happen." The most powerful engine ever placed in a fighter aircraft – the Pratt Whitney F135 turbofan, with 40,000 pounds of thrust – effortlessly pushed the F-35 skyward.
The flight of the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35 variant began at 12:44 p.m. CST at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, when the jet lifted off and began a climb-out to 15,000 feet. Beesley then performed a series of maneuvers to test aircraft handling and the operation of the engine and subsystems. He returned for a landing at 1:19 p.m CST. Two F*16s and an F/A-18 served as chase aircraft.
Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and general manager of the F-35 program, said the aircraft has continued to meet or exceed expectations during its assembly and pre-flight checkouts. It has now embarked on a 12,000-hour flight-test program designed to validate tens of thousands of hours of testing already completed in F-35 laboratories. "The F-35 will enter service as the most exhaustively tested, most thoroughly proven fighter system in history," Crowley said. "And thanks to its all-digital design, an exceptionally talented international engineering team and the world's best assemblers and mechanics, the F-35 has completely rewritten the book on fighter assembly precision and quality."
 

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So the type hadn't really completed the first operational flight before the cockpit jammed... Disregard made a mistake it was the F-22 that had the cockpit jam. Hope though this aircraft doesn't have a similar problem...
 
If the only snafu the F-22 has to worry about was the cockpit incident - well god help it's adversaries.

Both F-22 and F-35 will be awesome combat aircraft
 
one cannot help but think that with all the hype about the F-35 perhaps the americans have shot themselves in the foot with the F-22, with everything being said about the abilities of the F-35 is the F-22 really needed? yes she is a better dogfighter of which there is little doubt but is she gooe enough to justify maintaining a fleet of both?
 
one cannot help but think that with all the hype about the F-35 perhaps the americans have shot themselves in the foot with the F-22, with everything being said about the abilities of the F-35 is the F-22 really needed? yes she is a better dogfighter of which there is little doubt but is she gooe enough to justify maintaining a fleet of both?
Very perceptive my young friend! I know people who worked both programs and there was some concern about the F-35 performing "too well."

Those running the F-35 are under continual pressure to keep the program on schedule and on budget - something that did not happen on the F-22, at least not in the early days of production (1996). I think eventually many in Congress will ask "Do we really need both aircraft." The USAF is selling its soul to get both of these aircraft on line and many careers are at stake.

BTW the first F-35 flight test did go well despite the flight sortie being cut short. My rumor source tells me the problem was in some of the test equipment, not the aircraft...
 
Very perceptive my young friend! I know people who worked both programs and there was some concern about the F-35 performing "too well."

Those running the F-35 are under continual pressure to keep the program on schedule and on budget - something that did not happen on the F-22, at least not in the early days of production (1996). I think eventually many in Congress will ask "Do we really need both aircraft." The USAF is selling its soul to get both of these aircraft on line and many careers are at stake.

BTW the first F-35 flight test did go well despite the flight sortie being cut short. My rumor source tells me the problem was in some of the test equipment, not the aircraft...

I read in an air force publication - i'm trapped in another air force squadron! - that the F-35 program is the most expensive aircraft development project ever. US funding is estimated at 200 billion total. USAF also is not pursuing acquisition of any of the F-35B? models and will only get their conventional model.
 
Thus the need to placate the UK. We need them for the STOVL.

While the US could no doubt have developed the STOVL w/o British help, I also believe that the joint effort has produced a more capable aircraft... sorta the whole two heads thing. The Rolls fan shafted to the F136 GE seems to be a formidable powerplant. Seems more capable than the Boeing X-32 submission to the JSF table, seeming more reminiscent of the outdated harrier's propulsion system.
 
I understand that the test flight was shortened due to the undercarridge not being able to retract. It could easily have been a faulty guage or reading but understandably they were not going to take chances on the first flight.
 
I understand that the test flight was shortened due to the undercarridge not being able to retract. It could easily have been a faulty guage or reading but understandably they were not going to take chances on the first flight.
My "rumor sources" don't want to say much, but you're on the right track...
 

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