Lockheed Martin’s F-35 prototype has completed a three-week deployment to Edwards Air Force Base, California, which validated in-flight engine shut down and restart capability.

Twelve specific test cases over Edwards involving at least nine test flights demonstrated that the Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan can be restarted on command in the event of an unexpected flameout.

“The initial data review and pilot-reported results are very favorable and meet or exceed our expectations,” said Doug Pearson, vice president of Lockheed’s integrated test force.

F-35 test pilot Jeff Knowles, who will fly the aircraft back to Fort Worth, Texas this week, also noted that the prototype “showed high reliability” during the 23-day deployment to Edwards.

Designated as AA-1, the first F-35 prototype aircraft has completed a total of 63 flights after nearly three years, with at least 13 flights conducted during the last two months.

AA-1’s will differ from all follow-on aircraft as it retains the non-weight optimized configuration adopted after 2004. Lockheed said it is still on tract to deliver all 19 F-35 test aircraft by the end of 2009.

A four-year series of demonstration flights will lead to an initial operational test and evaluation phase starting in the “2013-2014” timeframe,” according to Lockheed’s statement.

Source: FlightGlobal.com