Boeing has completed hydraulic modifications to the X-32A Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) demonstrator's landing gear, clearing the way for the start of full flight testing of the conventional take-off landing (CTOL) variant.

Changes were made to the aircraft's hydraulically-actuated undercarriage and braking system after 20h of low-speed aircraft carrier (CV) approach tests. The first two "up and away" flights were made on 5 December, marking the start of Boeing's second phase of concept demonstrator testing.

Unlike the JSF Programme Office-mandated CV flight trials, CTOL testing is largely driven by Boeing's "strategic objectives". These include supersonic flight and in-flight refuelling.

Boeing claims the X-32A completed 100% of the government-defined CV objectives. This covered 97 approaches, including 74 landings and numerous wave-offs in manual and autothrottle modes. The tests were conducted on a carrier deck outline on the runway at Edwards AFB.

"From the Government's standpoint, I'm very pleased with the performance and progress we've made," says US Navy Cdr Philip Yates, lead government test pilot.

Next to the X-32B short take-off landing version, due to fly early next year, the CV tests were critical for demonstrating and validating Boeing's JSF modelling. In terms of approach speed, roll and a 12.2í angle-of-attack, the aircraft met with previously submitted sealed performance predictions.

Source: Flight International