Two Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters flew nonstop from their final-assembly site in Fort Worth, Texas, to Edwards Air Force Base, California, yesterday, signaling a further expansion of F-35 flight test operations. The arrival is the first in a series that will increase the Edwards F-35 test fleet to at least eight aircraft.U.S. Air Force Test Pilot Lt. Col. Hank “Hog” Griffiths and Lockheed Martin Chief Test Pilot Jon Beesley flew the jets, known as AF-1 and AF-2, nonstop in the first multi-ship, long-range F-35 flight.
“The F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant – designed to meet U.S. Air Force requirements – is also the primary export version of the Lightning II. The air forces of Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark, and Norway will employ the F-35A.
F-35 test aircraft are supported by the F-35 Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) and managed by the Lockheed Martin F-35 Sustainment Operations Center in Fort Worth. ALIS is the worldwide support system reporting and recording the prognostics and health of all F-35s around the globe to ensure mission readiness.
The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations, advanced sustainment, and lower operational and support costs. Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. Two separate, interchangeable F-35 engines are under development: the Pratt & Whitney F135 and the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team F136.