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News > Wind tunnel tests contribute to first flight of F-35
F-35 aerodynamic loads testing at Arnold AFB marks milestone in program
Tim Wright, an Aerospace Testing Alliance craftsman at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., examines the short takeoff/vertical landing F-35 model in the 16–foot transonic wind tunnel during a model change. The information from this testing, the final entry in a series of tests, will go into a large database to refine and validate the aircraft designs for flight testing. (Air Force photo)
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Successful first flight of F-35B Lightning II is welcome news at Arnold

Posted 6/12/2008   Updated 7/11/2008 Email story   Print story


by Philip Lorenz III

6/12/2008 - ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- Last month's completion of the first flight of the short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) version of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. in Fort Worth, Texas, resonated with engineers at the U.S. Air Force's Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC). 

"This is welcome news and a number of us at AEDC, myself included, can take pride in the part we played in supporting this program with aerodynamic testing of the airframe and dedicated performance testing of the engine in our development test cells," said Marc Skelley, senior F-35 project manager assigned to the 716th Test Squadron at Arnold. "We've tested all three versions in the wind tunnels. There's not a lot of difference aerodynamically between the Carrier Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) and STOVL versions. The Carrier Version (CV) has much larger wings for creating more lift necessary to land on a carrier deck." 

More than 10,000 hours of testing have been logged on the F-35 aircraft and engines in the wind tunnels and jet engine test cells at AEDC. 

"Over 2,000 engine test hours for the CTOL and STOVL versions of the F135 engines have been logged in propulsion test cells J-2, SL-3, and C-1 in preparation for this event," said Marcos O. Moré, senior Aerospace Testing Alliance (ATA) F135 project manager at AEDC. "We take great pride in the contributions we have made in order to reach this very important milestone." 

The F-35B will provide a combination of capabilities never before available: stealth, supersonic speed and STOVL basing flexibility. Initial flights of the first F-35B will be conventional takeoff and landing, with transitions to STOVL flight beginning in early 2009. 

F-35 Lightning IIs will replace a wide range of existing aircraft, including A-10s, F-16s, F/A-18s and Harriers. The STOVL version of the F-35 will be used by the U.S. Marines and the British Royal Navy.  

The F-35 program is the world's largest military project, involving 11 countries and employing about 20,000 people worldwide.

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