Lockheed Martin’s F-35 programme has completed the final developmental test flight of its System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase.
The final SDD flight took place April 11 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland., when Navy test aircraft CF-2 completed a mission to collect loads data while carrying external 2,000-pound GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) and AIM-9X Sidewinder heat-seeking missiles.
Developmental flight test is a key component of the F-35 program’s SDD phase, which will formally be completed following an Operational Test and Evaluation and a Department of Defense decision to go into full-rate aircraft production.
F-35 flight testing will now continue to support phased capability improvements and modernisation of the F-35 air system.
Vice Adm. Mat Winter, F-35 Program Executive Officer, said: “Since the first flight of AA-1 in 2006, the developmental flight test programme has operated for more than 11 years mishap-free, conducting more than 9,200 sorties, accumulating over 17,000 flight hours, and executing more than 65,000 test points to verify the design, durability, software, sensors, weapons capability and performance for all three F-35 variants. Congratulations to our F-35 Test Team and the broader F-35 Enterprise for delivering this new powerful and decisive capability to the warfighter.”
“The F-35 flight test programme represents the most comprehensive, rigourous and the safest developmental flight test program in aviation history,” said Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and general manager of the F-35 program. “The joint government and industry team demonstrated exceptional collaboration and expertise, and the results have given the men and women who fly the F-35 great confidence in its transformational capability.”