Wed, Dec 13, 2006
Could Happen Any Day Now...
ANN REALTIME REPORTING 12.13.06 1115 EST:
Representatives with Lockheed Martin tell ANN the first
production-spec F-35 Lightning II successfully completed all ground
taxi tests Tuesday, paving the way for its inaugural flight.
In a series of tests that began on December 7, F-35 Chief Pilot
Jon Beesley guided the fighter along the runway at increasing
speeds to evaluate the aircraft's ground handling and systems. On
December 12, Beesley executed two final taxi runs, the first at 80
knots and the last at 110 knots.
Pushed along by the Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan -- the
most powerful fighter engine in history -- the Lightning II
performed its final taxi runs successfully, with all parameters
meeting Lockheed's expectations.
Over the next 24 hours the flight test team will review all
taxi-test data... and although the date for first flight is not
definite, the flight window will be from 9 am - 3 pm CST when all
conditions - weather, etc. - are "go."
Expect a first flight before the end of this week... possibly,
before the end of today.
The stealthy F-35 is a supersonic, multi-role, fifth-generation
fighter designed to replace a wide range of existing aircraft,
including AV-8B Harriers, A-10s, F-16s, F/A-18 Hornets and United
Kingdom Harrier GR.7s and Sea Harriers.
Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 Lightning II 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
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