Sea trials have concluded for the F-35B Lightning II's Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft. Flying under the power of Pratt & Whitney's F135 propulsion system, two STOVL variants conducted 72 short takeoffs and vertical landings, for a total of 260 vertical landings in the program. The three-week sea trial period was conducted aboard the USS Wasp sailing from Norfolk Naval Base in Norfolk, Virginia. Pratt & Whitney is a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX) company.
Col. Roger Cordell, director, Test & Evaluation for F-35 Naval Variants, F-35 Integrated Test Force, said the test went exceedingly well. "The first time you bring a new aircraft to the maritime environment is complex and dangerous, and keeping risks at an acceptable level requires an enormous collective effort. The incredible teamwork by the crew of the USS Wasp, the Integrated Test Force, Lockheed Martin, BAE, Pratt & Whitney, and Rolls-Royce was essential to trial's tremendous success. We're looking forward to getting this aircraft in the hands of the warfighter."
Key events included operating two F-35B aircraft on deck, at the same time, in both landing and takeoff operations. The tests were completed on schedule and demonstrated that the F-35B aircraft and F135 propulsion system are meeting program goals.
"This is a significant and historic achievement for the F-35 program and the F135 propulsion system," said Chris Flynn, vice president F135/F119 engine programs. "Beginning with the 'first ever' F-35B vertical landing to take place on a ship Oct. 3, the F135 provided dependable performance throughout the series of rigorous tests. We are meeting our goals on performance and affordability at this critical time for the F-35B program."
U.S. Navy and Marine Corps leadership were pleased with the deck handling qualities of the F-35B. "It is no small feat to put together sea trials," said Vice Admiral David Venlet, F-35 Program Executive Officer. "This test was planned to happen on Oct. 3 back in early spring of this year and the team delivered on schedule. Signs of dependable performance are emerging across broad aspects of the development program. Professionals from the Navy, Marine Corps and industry team of Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce continue to work tirelessly to deliver this aircraft to the fleet," Venlet said. He added, " Every time an aircraft is first tested at sea we learn a great deal and the data collected from this event will inform us about the further development work necessary to successfully integrate the F-35B on large-deck amphibious ships. By all accounts, we're off to a great start."
Flynn said, "During the trials, the F135 provided outstanding capability and reliability in more than 70 short takeoffs and vertical landings by four different pilots over three weeks."
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