Ramping Up For Introduction Of F-35 Lightning II
The first group of maintenance crews for the F-35 Lightning II
have successfully completed classroom instruction and certification
training in preparation for F-35 test-site stand up at Edwards Air
Force Base, CA and Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD.
"F-35 flight testing will quickly begin escalating as more and
more aircraft come off the line, and we're pleased that our
maintainers will be poised at the test sites to keep all the F-35s
in top flying condition," said Kimberly Gavaletz, Lockheed Martin
vice president of F-35 Autonomic Logistics/Global Sustainment.
In the late May/early June time frame, the first F-35A
conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) test aircraft will deploy
temporarily to Edwards Air Force Base for expanded flight test
activities. The aircraft will return to Lockheed Martin's
(NYSE:LMT) Fort Worth plant this summer. The first F-35B short
takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft will transfer to Naval
Air Station Patuxent River by early 2009, where it will begin
long-term STOVL-mode flight testing.
F-35 flight-line mechanics from Lockheed Martin, Pratt &
Whitney and the United States and United Kingdom military services
completed systems training and task certifications for the F-35
CTOL and STOVL variants, including 27 separate pre-deployment
certification courses. The training, conducted under the direction
of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, covers vehicle systems,
propulsion, avionics, fiber optics, low observable (stealth), the
Autonomic Logistics Information System
(maintenance/prognostics/support/logistics) and other aspects of
the aircraft and its associated systems.
Approximately 500 certified maintainers will be assigned to the
13 flight-test aircraft that will deploy to Edwards and Patuxent
River over the next five years. The first class combining students
assigned to both test sites concluded on April 11.
The first F-35A has completed 40 flights and has exceeded
performance and reliability expectations. The aircraft is currently
in a scheduled period of maintenance and software updates that will
enable an expanded flight envelope. All 19 flight-test and
ground-test aircraft are in production flow or on the flightline,
and assembly has begun on the first two production-model F-35s.
The F-35 is a supersonic, multi-role, 5th generation stealth
fighter. Three F-35 variants derived from a common design,
developed together and using the same sustainment infrastructure
worldwide will replace at least 13 types of aircraft for 11 nations
initially, making the Lightning II the most economical fighter
program in history.
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