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What Happens When You Drop An Airplane?

Vought To Conduct Full-Scale Drop Tests On F-35C Lightning II JSF

Vought Aircraft Industries has taken possession of an F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter test article from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. and will perform full-scale drop testing on the aircraft in early 2010.

The tests are being conducted to verify the strength of the F-35C Navy variant landing gear and airframe structure for carrier landing operations. Pre-test aircraft preparation includes the installation of special drop test fixtures, test systems and instrumentation on the aircraft. Actual drop testing is currently estimated to start in January and continue through April at the Vought Structures Test Lab here.

"Our Dallas facility has a long history of conducting carrier suitability testing for Navy aircraft," said John Vaught, manager, Vought's Structures Development and Prototyping Labs. "We are thrilled to conduct a test program on a transformational fighter jet that is designed for survivability in the 21st century."

Test objectives include structural verification of the aircraft landing gear and airframe for critical landing conditions.

Over 500 channels of data will be recorded during each drop test event to measure loads, stresses, deflections and accelerations at various locations on the landing gear and airframe. High-speed video cameras will also be utilized to document each test event.

As a former prime contractor to the U.S. Navy, Vought's Dallas facility designed, built and conducted drop tests on the A-7 and F-8. It also supported Lockheed Martin by providing S-3A drop tests. Vought has performed static and durability tests on a number of other aircraft as well, including the S-3A, EA-6B, B-2, P-3, A-10 wing, Global Hawk wing, C-17 horizontal stabilizer, and F-14 wings and nacelles.

FMI: www.voughtaircraft.com

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