Today was a very big day for the F-35 program. It’s true that the first vertical landing of a F-35B flight test aircraft is merely another test point, one among thousands. But it’s a really big, single test point.
And, most importantly, it’s a rare moment of victory after a six-week series of very public setbacks. Since February 1, we have learned the program is at least 13 months further behind schedule, initial operational capability for the US Air Force will come another two years later, and the cost of each aircraft now averages more than $100 million.
The vertical landing itself occurred about nine to 10 months later than the latest previous schedule, and a couple years late compared to the original schedule.
But the event also shows that Lockheed is making progress, albeit ever so slowly. It is not insignificant that the BF-1 flight test aircraft has flown three times in two days. Each aircraft is expected to average 12 sorties per month at peak rate. It will be at least another year before Lockheed proves the 14 aircraft in the test fleet can demonstrate the flight test sortie rate achieved by previous programmes, including the F-22 and F/A-18E/F.
At that time, Lockheed executive vice president Tom Burbage told reporters today, “we’ll be able to get a really good lock on whether we can achieve these kind of legacy type rates, and we think we will.”
VIDEO: F-35 (finally) passes vertical landing test
By Stephen Trimble on 18 March, 2010 in Uncategorised
About Stephen Trimble
Cookies & Privacy
A400M Airbus Airbus Military B-2 BAE Systems Boeing C-17 C-130 CSAR-X Dassault EADS North America Embraer Eurofighter F-15 F-16 F-22 F-35 F/A-18 Gripen J-20 Joint Strike Fighter JSF KC-45 KC-767 KC-X Lockheed Martin Northrop Grumman PAK FA RAF Rafale Raytheon RQ-170 Saab Sikorsky Skunk Works stealth SU-35 Sukhoi tanker Typhoon UAS UAV USAF US Air Force V-22