VIDEO: BF-1′s one-month anniversary on Pax River parking lot

F135 engine maker Pratt & Whitney yesterday released video of the first short takeoff and vertical landing test aircraft arriving at Patuxent River naval air base on November 15. The video shows Lockheed Martin test pilot Jon Beesley describing the event as a “quantum step” forward in the flight test program, promising a series of roughly 12 flights leading to a vertical landing would begin “essentially tomorrow”.

One month later, BF-1 remains parked on the ground. Meanwhile, a Lockheed spokesman says, the vertical landing event has slipped from December to January. It was previously scheduled for last August, which itself was delayed from the original schedule.

Lockheed says the delay is due to a series of repairs. A fuel valve broke during the ferry flight. Replacing the part required removing the engine. Lockheed is using the opportunity to fix two other broken components — an inlet rake to measure airspeed and an engine instrumentation module. Even so, Lockheed had said the aircraft would fly last week, but that did not happen. Lockheed now expects BF-1 to fly perhaps later this week.

Regardless of BF-1′s flight test progress, the F-35 program will face a different kind of test tomorrow. The Senate Armed Services Committee is holding a hearing on the findings on the F-35 Joint Estimating Team, which reportedly warned the program faces more delays and cost overruns.

It’s also almost time to bid farewell to the AA-1 flight test aircraft, the non-weight-optimized design that has recorded 90 test sorties since debuting two years ago. Flight 91, scheduled later this week, will ferry AA-1 from Edwards AFB to China Lake, where it will be destroyed to complete live fire testing.


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6 Responses to VIDEO: BF-1′s one-month anniversary on Pax River parking lot

  1. SMSgt Mac 15 December, 2009 at 2:44 pm #

    And in anticipation of any snickering and cheap shots to come:
    This is why it is called ‘Test’ and not ‘Demonstration’.

  2. Dave 15 December, 2009 at 5:53 pm #

    It’s like BF-1 is a lemon… it’s always something with that jet.

  3. airplanejim 16 December, 2009 at 2:31 am #

    SMSgt Mac let me be the first to offer a snicker and cheap shot this time. The F-35 is an over priced turd with unlimited costs to continue. When you try to make an aircraft perform three missions in one airframe it can do none of them well. There is a point where the cost of a weapon system outweighs it value and the F-35 is there. As happened with the A-12, this plane needs to be canceled.

  4. Mars HQ Regiment 16 December, 2009 at 4:48 am #

    Just a minor technicality… this vid DOESN’T actually show the jet ‘arriving’ at Patuxent River. It starts off merely with Jon sitting in the cockpit with some kind of power line (?) attached to aircraft, ostensibly from an off-scene generator (?), and a few crew standing around watching him in the cockpit.

    God speed to a good vertical landing come January! Cheers-

  5. Bern 16 December, 2009 at 11:35 am #

    So, if AA-1 is non-weight-optimised, how much value will they get from the live-fire testing? I.e. how much of the structure is common with the production-representative aircraft, so that the damage they see is relevant?

  6. Michal Newness 4 September, 2010 at 9:05 pm #

    I appreciate the time you put in this work or in this article. Although you have bright ideas, I really cannot agree with them. I’m sure there are better ways to walk through this sticky situation. Not trying to flame or troll or anything .

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