VIDEO & PICTURES: UK team completes F-35 ejection seat tests

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Escape system testing for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has culminated with high-speed ejection seat trials performed at Martin-Baker's Chalgrove airfield in Oxfordshire, the UK.

"The system has been certified as safe for flight after a series of rigorous tests," says escape system prime contractor BAE Systems.

More than 30 ejection seat tests have been conducted at sites in the UK, France and the USA over the last several years. The last of these was a sled test during which a Martin-Baker US16E ejection seat and mannequin were fired from the front section of an F-35 from a speed in excess of 520kt (962km/h).

"During the tests up to 900,000 measurements were recorded every second," says BAE test manager Rick Whittaker. "I am pleased to say the systems performed really well."

"The escape system standard that underwent the final tests is now being implemented into the production aircraft," says Chris Garside, BAE's chief engineer on the F-35 programme.

Equipment including the US16E seat, Pacific Scientific Energetic Materials transparency removal system and Honeywell life support systems will be installed on every F-35 produced for the USA and its international partners in the JSF programme. This is forecast as totalling more than 3,100 aircraft over the life of the programme.

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