Lockheed Martin's flight-test fleet for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme has been boosted with the debut flight of its second short take-off and vertical landing example, BF-2.

Performed at Lockheed's Fort Worth site in Texas on 25 February, BF-2's first flight milestone included "manoeuvres to assess its subsystems and basic handling qualities, and to check on-board instrumentation", the company says.

To be operated in conventional mode for the next several months, BF-2 (below) will support test activities including high angle-of-attack flight, flutter envelope expansion, air-to-air refuelling and weapons testing, says Lockheed. The aircraft will then be flown to NAS Patuxent River in Maryland later this year for further development work.

 F-35B BF-2 debut
© Lockheed Martin

"Each aircraft that rolls off the assembly line fulfils a unique verification objective and moves us closer to our customers' initial operational capability dates," says Lockheed executive vice-president and F-35 programme general manager Dan Crowley.

Meanwhile, the first STOVL F-35, BF-1, is expected in mid-year to perform the type's first vertical landing. The aircraft, along with conventional take-off and landing F-35A AA-1, have now flown a combined 84 sorties, Lockheed says.

Source: Flight International