Recent F-35 Flights and Developments

The first photo shows a F-35A Lightning II conventional takeoff and landing aircraft completed the program’s first in-flight refueling mission while configured with external weapons at Edwards Air Force Base,Calif. U.S.
The flight occurred on April 21, 2012 and the pilot was U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. George Schwartz. The plane., known as AF-4, flew with two external inert AIM-9X weapons and four external stores.  Internally, the jet was carrying two Joint Direct Attack Munitions and two Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles.

The two-hour mission tested the flying qualities of the aircraft while maneuvering with external weapons.
This test paves the way for weapons separation testing later this year.
Photos credited to Lockheed Martin and the text was drawn
from various Lockheed Martin press releases.

  • The next two photos show a formation flight of the navy variant flown on April 18, 2012.  F-35C Lightning II carrier variant test aircraft launched together and conducted formation flying at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. The planes, known as CF-1 and CF-2, were piloted by Navy Cdr. Eric Buus and Marine Corps Lt. Col. Matt Taylor, respectively. The mission tested flying qualities of the aircraft while taking off, landing and flying in formation for more than one hour.
  • The fourth photo shows BK-1, the United Kingdom’s first F-35 Lightning II production aircraft, flying its inaugural flight April 16. Lockheed Martin test pilot Bill Gigliotti took the short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) jet through a series of functional flight checks during a sortie that lasted 45 minutes. The jet will complete a series of company and government checkout flights prior to its acceptance by the U.K. Ministry of Defence. The U.K. MOD will use this plane for training and operational tests at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., beginning later this year.
  • The final photo shows the first F-35 Lightning II for The Netherlands moving out of the F-35 production facility on April 1. This is the latest step in the production process leading to its eventual assignment to Eglin AFB, Fla., later this summer. The Netherlands will use the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) jet, known as AN-1, for training and operational tests for pilots and maintainers. AN-1 will undergo functional fuel system checks before being transported to the flight line for ground and flight tests in the coming weeks.


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