Friday, January 8, 2010

STOVL F-35 has flight test

The short takeoff/vertical landing version of the Lockheed Martin F-35 engaged its STOVL propulsion system in flight for the first time this week during testing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. Tests to come include short takeoffs, hovers and vertical landings. The F-35 is powered by a Pratt & Whitney F135 engine driving a Rolls-Royce LiftFan. In the test, the pilot from BAE Systems engaged the LiftFan propulsion system at 5,000 feet and 210 knots, then slowed to 180 knots with the system still engaged before accelerating to 210 knots and converting back to conventional-flight mode. The F135 system development and demonstration program has completed 164 hours of flight time, including cross-country flights to and from Edwards and Eglin Air Force Bases and Patuxent River Naval Air Station. (Sources: Pratt & Whitney, 01/08/10; Lockheed Martin, 01/07/10). Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base is scheduled to become home of the JSF training center; Lockheed Martin, Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems all have operations in the Gulf Coast region.