Family poster of F-35 flight test fleet

Click on image for full-size version

F-35 montage large markup.jpgCF-3, shown above in a radar cross section test chamber, is preparing for first flight later this month to fulfill a 4.5-year-long effort to redesign, build and fly 12 weight-optimized Lockheed Martin F-35 flight test aircraft.

It has been harder, more expensive and certainly more frustrating than anyone probably imagined on 6 December 2006, the day AA-1 first flew. That aircraft, designed to meet a discarded specification, has since been retired to live-fire testing.

The next test aircraft to achieve first flight was BF-1, which flew nearly three years ago on 11 June 2008. Another flight test aircraft, CF-4, was added to the test programme last year, but won’t join the fleet for at least two years.

For now, these 12 aircraft represent the sum of an estimated $54.3 billion investment by the US Department of Defense (DoD) to complete a 7,500hr development test programme that now will stretch for 10 years, according to the DoD’s latest selected acquisition report.

(All photos courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

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6 Responses to Family poster of F-35 flight test fleet

  1. PMS 18 May, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    That neither picture shows the fighter with the gear fully retracted is – say – symptomatic. I still am keeping the fingers crossed for the program though…

  2. Steve Burt 18 May, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    Should there not be some sort of moral sense to this saga with re to spending tax payers money as we all know the mistakes are made during the closed door meetings (requirements) usually to do with some ritual in someone getting there own way!

  3. sferrin 18 May, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    @PMS: This may come as a shock but yes, in fact, they have flown with their gear up.

  4. RunningBear 18 May, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    Stephen,

    That would be CF-5, CF-4 was cancelled a while back. That rounds out the “Baker’s” dozen. I checked and AF-6&7 have Eglin tail flashes, so I don’t think they will count in the SDD team. But they are helping to flight check the Block 1 mission system at Edwards. I’m sure that someone will point out the “blue-light special” price of $54.3 B. for only 13 a/c, Ha!

  5. SpudmanWP 18 May, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

    The reason they have their gear down is because they are either taking off or landing.. duh! ;)

  6. alloycowboy 18 May, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    The poster can also be used as a bingo card for Lockheed Martin JSF Bingo…

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