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Mon, Nov 17, 2008

Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Flies Supersonic

Accelerates To Mach 1.05 With Full Internal Payload Onboard

Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter felt the need... the need for SPEED! The advanced fighter aircraft flew supersonic for the first time last week, accelerating to Mach 1.05 (about 680 miles per hour) in testing November 13.

Lockheed says the test validated the F-35 Lightning II's capability to operate beyond the speed of sound and was accomplished with a full internal load of "dummy" weapons on the one-hour flight.

"The F-35 transitioned from subsonic to supersonic just as our engineers and our computer modeling had predicted," said Jon Beesley, Lockheed Martin's chief F-35 test pilot. "I continue to be impressed with the aircraft's power and strong acceleration, and I'm pleased that its precise handling qualities are retained in supersonic flight, even with a payload of 5,400 pounds (2,450 kilograms) in the weapons bays."

Beesley said it was also a significant achievement for a test aircraft to fly supersonic for the first time with the weight of a full internal load of weapons. The milestone was achieved on the 69th flight of F-35 aircraft AA-1.

For the test, Beesley climbed to 30,000 feet and accelerated to Mach 1.05, or about 680 miles per hour, over a rural area in north Texas. The F-35 accomplished four transitions through the sound barrier, spending a total of eight minutes in supersonic flight.

The flight was preceded by a high-subsonic mission earlier in the day. Future testing will gradually expand the flight envelope out to the aircraft's top speed of Mach 1.6, which the F-35 is designed to achieve with a full internal load of weapons.

F-35 AA-1, a conventional takeoff and landing variant (CTOL), and F-35 BF-1, a short takeoff/vertical landing variant (STOVL), together have combined for 83 test flights.

FMI: www.lockheedmartin.com

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