Lockheed Martin has successfully completed the wet runway and crosswind testing of its F-35B fighter at Edwards Air Force Base in California, US, marking an important milestone in the US Marine Corps' (USMC) initial operational capability (IOC) certification.
Lockheed Martin F-35 test and verification vice-president JD McFarlan said: "This testing is absolutely critical to [the] 2B flight software fleet release and the Marine Corps' IOC.
"Collectively, the results support clearing the 20k crosswind envelope for conventional take off and landings (CTOL), short take offs (STO) and short landings (SL), with ideal handling quality ratings and meaningful improvement over legacy fourth generational fighter aircraft."
During the 41-day test period, involving 37 missions, the USMC's BF-4 aircraft successfully achieved 114 test points, comprising 48 of 48 wet runway test points, four of four performance STOs, 12 of 18 unique flight test conditions for STO, 19 of 23 unique flight test conditions for SLs, and all directional control and anti-skid wet runway testing.
As part of the testing, four aircraft surpassed flight hour milestones with the F-35C CF-1 and F-35A aircraft AF-4 achieving 500 flight hours, and the F-35C and CF-5 accomplishing 100 hours.
Integrating the latest low-observable stealth technology with the speed and agility of a fighter, the three distinct variants of the fifth generation F-35 Lightning II will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the US Air Force, the F/A-18 for the US Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the USMC, and a range of fighters for approximately ten other nations.
Upon the USMC's scheduled completion of IOC in July 2015, the US Air Force and navy aircraft will also attain IOC certification in August 2016 and 2018, respectively.
Image: The USMC's Lockheed Martin F-35B fighter during the wet runway and crosswind testing. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin.