Military

The F-35 fighter completes 100,000 flight hours

The F-35 fighter completes 100...
An inverted F-35C launches an AIM-9X missile during a live fire test event
An inverted F-35C launches an AIM-9X missile during a live fire test event
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An inverted F-35C launches an AIM-9X missile during a live fire test event
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An inverted F-35C launches an AIM-9X missile during a live fire test event

Lockheed Martin says that the three variants of the F-35 Lightning II have completed over 100,000 flight hours and the next-generation fighter aircraft is on its way to completing its final System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase. The F-35 Integrated Test Force teams are currently working on the final release of 3F software, F-35B ski jump testing, F-35B austere site operations, high-Mach Loads testing for the F-35B and F-35C, and weapon accuracy tests.

The F-35 is a multi-role aircraft intended to replace a wide variety of warplanes for the US Air Force, US Navy, US Marines, the Royal Navy, and other customers. With F-35A standard, F35C strike carrier, and the F-35B VSTOL variants, it's designed for both air superiority and for air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities to suppress enemy air defenses. In addition, it uses intelligent combat systems to provide networking and Command/Control capability as well as unprecedented situational awareness of the battle space.

Today's announcement comes in the wake of a series of SDD milestones. According to Lockheed, the F-35A has completed its final envelope tests designed to push the airframe to the limits of its structural strength, vehicle systems performance, and aerodynamics. It's also completed the UK Weapon Delivery Accuracy tests for the AIM-132 ASRAAM and Paveway IV weapons, 45 of 50 SDD Weapon Delivery Accuracy tests, internal gun and centerline external pod 25mm gun accuracy tests, and multi-ship mission effectiveness tests.

The US Marine Corps cleared the F-35 for operations in July 2015, the US Air Force did so in August 2016, and it's expected to be cleared by the US Navy in 2019.

"This 100K milestone marks a significant level of maturity for the program and the F-35 weapons system," says Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President and F-35 Program General Manager Jeff Babione. "We are well positioned to complete air vehicle full 3F and mission systems software development by the end of 2017."

Source: Lockheed Martin

8 comments
fen
And the UK will have to spend 50 million fixing each one that arrives cause they are heaps of junk.
aki009
@fen Not really. The F-35 really is an awesome weapons platform. That's not to say that you won't end up spending that 50 million to upgrade each one anyway, but it'll be to do 10 more things that the UK planners didn't think of when they acquired them in the first place. Likely sources for those additional expenses are systems to manage UAVs, new communication links, better electronic warfare suites, and of course directed energy weapons. The F-35 was designed to accommodate all of the above once they become available.
VincentBrennan
I have no doubt that the F35 will be an amazing weapons system. It will do everything promised and more eventually. What worries me is that we are, once again, going down the road of a few, very expensive and smaller force, road. We have done that before and it has bit us. Each F35 lost will represent a higher percentage of overall force. The Russians and the Chinese take the road of a much higher number of less expensive aircraft that are still quite capable. Each one lost represents a smaller percentage of the overall force. That last couple percent of capability is very expensive. It is like that in everything not just fighter aircraft. I am not claiming to know what is the right road to take is. I am saying that historically there is a good argument for the Russian system. While we need replacements for the F15, F16, FA18 we do know, for instance, the F15 NEVER lost an air to air fight so it must have been pretty good for it's time. Lastly I am a little surprised that the USN is accepting a single engine fighter. Fighting over the sea the Navy has always wanted TWO engines for their defensive fighters. They have not had a strike aircraft with one engine since the Vietnam era A4 Skyhawk that was designed in the 1950s!
Rusty Harris
POS is "too big to fail". Once again, the "brains" of whomever came up with this, took a page out of the McNamara playbook. Oh! lets make one basic airframe for ALL of the forces! It will be "easier and cheaper". We all know the needs of the air force, differ from that of the Navy, which differ from those of the Marines. They tried this in the 60's with the F-4 Phantom, and the "TFX" project (F-111). It failed BIG TIME. Plus, the software for the cannon on the 35 can't hold the capacity for "ground" missions like the A-10 can, cannot absorb the punishment the A-10 can. The "Scrambled Egghats" in the Pentagon like new shiny toys, like children. This thing, at some point, "may" prove to be a capable aircraft...but not yet!
Andrej Radoš
At some 100K per hour , ten billion dollars down the paranoid drain.
georges
100000 hours, wow, applause ! The F 35, the unique example of post WW II first-line Warplane unable to flight "all weather"...
cliff21
so .. 100K hours of flying an exceptionally expensive piece of crap single engine FORD (fix or repair daily) aircraft ... whomever bought them will regret.. they could have had real fighters instead of pretty boy single engine downtime kings... I wonder what the ratio of hours of flight time versus repair time will be.... most likley sitting on the ground more than flying...
anthony88
This plane is so frighteningly good that it may stop future wars by preventing the UKUS alliance from using it for fear of losing one in battle. It's a game-changer. I foresee peace in our time due to this weapons system.