The US Marine Corps (USMC) F-35B Lightning II variant of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has successfully completed first airborne engine start tests, as part of ongoing evaluation tests at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, and Edwards Air Force Base in California prior to its delivery to the fleet.
Pratt & Whitney F-35 Patuxent River ITF site lead Roy Hauck said: "The aircraft and its integrated systems demonstrated intentional flameout and successful recovery scenarios during air start flight tests, and BF-2 and the team did a great job."
During the trials, the short take-off and vertical landing F-35 variant test aircraft designated as BF-3 demonstrated its propulsion system’s capability at various altitudes to restart in-flight.
The latest round of performance tests is a prior requirement for the aircraft to undergo high angle-of-attack testing, which is due to start in 2013.
USMC test pilot lieutenant colonel Matthew Kelly said: "High alpha, or angle-of-attack tests, are important for us to fully evaluate the aircraft’s handling characteristics and warfighting capability.
"Maximising the performance of the airplane around the very slow edges of the flight envelope is probably some of the most challenging testing we will conduct."
Earlier, the BF-2 aircraft underwent a series of 27 air starts at various altitudes using multiple restart methods.
The 461st Flight Test Squadron and government site director commander lieutenant colonel George Schwartz said: "At Edwards, we have a unique testing range, which provides ideal and controlled conditions for completing air start testing.
"In addition, we’ve recently completed air start testing on the F-35A, so we’re able to share some of our expertise with the Pax team as well."
Image: F-35B test aircraft BF-3 undergoing mission over Atlantic Ocean test range. Photo: US Navy photo courtesy Lockheed Martin/Andy Wolfe.