Successful first flight of F-35B Lightning II is welcome news at Arnold

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Today's successful 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.

"More than 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 ATA F135 Project Manager assigned to the 717th Test Squadron. "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.

Editorial Note:

Arnold Engineering Development Center is the nation's largest complex of flight simulation test facilities. The center was dedicated in June 1951 by President Harry Truman and named after 5-star General of the Air Force Henry 'Hap' Arnold, visionary leader of the Army Air Forces in World War II and the only airman to hold 5-Star rank. Today, this $7.8 billion complex has some 58 aerospace test facilities located at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., and the center's two remote operating locations - the Hypervelocity Tunnel 9 in White Oak, Md., and the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex (NFAC) located on NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. The Tunnel 9 test facilities simulate flight from subsonic to hypersonic speeds at altitudes from sea level to space while NFAC provides a critical capability for aeronautics research, particularly rotorcraft research. Virtually every high performance flight system in use by the Department of Defense today and all NASA manned spacecraft have been tested in AEDC's facilities. Today the center is testing the next generation of aircraft and space systems. For more information on AEDC visit the center's Web site at