BAE Sys­tems Test Pilot Makes First Ver­ti­cal Land­ing in the F‑35 Light­ning II Air­craft

The F‑35B begins descend­ing to its first ver­ti­cal land­ing.
Source: Lock­heed Mar­tin

PATUXENT RIVER, Mary­land — BAE Sys­tems’ test pilot Gra­ham “GT” Tom­lin­son has tak­en to the skies and suc­cess­ful­ly com­plet­ed the first ever ver­ti­cal land­ing of the short take off ver­ti­cal land­ing (STOVL) vari­ant of the Lock­heed Mar­tin F‑35 Light­ning II (also known as the Joint Strike Fight­er) at Naval Air Sta­tion Patux­ent Riv­er, Mary­land.

BAE Sys­tems is teamed with Northrop Grum­man and prime con­trac­tor Lock­heed Mar­tin in the F‑35’s devel­op­ment, test­ing and pro­duc­tion. BAE Sys­tems is devel­op­ing a vari­ety of struc­tures and sys­tems for the F‑35, from the aft fuse­lage and empen­nage (ver­ti­cal and hor­i­zon­tal tails) engi­neered and pro­duced in the UK to the elec­tron­ic war­fare suite devel­oped in the US. Ver­ti­cal and hor­i­zon­tal tails are designed and pro­duced by BAE Sys­tems at its Sam­les­bury, UK facil­i­ty using the lat­est dig­i­tal design and pre­ci­sion man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nolo­gies.

BAE Sys­tems brings key oper­a­tional effec­tive­ness and ongo­ing sup­port capa­bil­i­ties to the F‑35 pro­gram and deliv­ers sig­nif­i­cant sub­sys­tems includ­ing elec­tron­ic war­fare, advanced low observ­able aper­tures, advanced coun­ter­mea­sure sys­tems, vehi­cle man­age­ment com­put­ers, and active incep­tor sys­tems from a num­ber of facil­i­ties in the US. The Company’s Struc­tur­al & Dynam­ic Test facil­i­ty at Brough, York­shire, UK will take the lead on sta­t­ic and fatigue test­ing for the F‑35 pro­gram.

Mick Ord, BAE Sys­tems F‑35 Man­ag­ing Direc­tor added: “This is a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone on the F‑35 pro­gram and for the devel­op­ment of STOVL tech­nol­o­gy. It is a great achieve­ment by the whole team to build on BAE Sys­tems’ short takeoff/vertical land­ing expe­ri­ence, and to apply it to this out­stand­ing air­craft.”

The STOVL vari­ant of the F‑35 has been devel­oped for the U.S. Marine Corps and the UK Roy­al Air Force and Roy­al Navy. The first STOVL air­craft has been at Patux­ent Riv­er since Novem­ber 15, 2009, com­plet­ing a series of test flight activ­i­ties on ground and in air, includ­ing sta­t­ic test­ing and in air con­ver­sion flight tests lead­ing up to the first ver­ti­cal land­ing.

Gra­ham Tom­lin­son said: “Today’s ver­ti­cal land­ing onto a 95 ft square pad showed that the air­craft has the thrust and the con­trol to manoeu­vre accu­rate­ly both in free air and in descent. Togeth­er with the work already com­plet­ed for slow speed han­dling and land­ings, this pro­vides a robust plat­form to expand the F‑35’s STOVL capa­bil­i­ties”.

Ver­ti­cal Land­ing tech­nol­o­gy allows an air­craft to fly in and out of areas as close as pos­si­ble to the bat­tle­field. BAE Sys­tems pio­neered ver­ti­cal flight through the P1127 and Kestrel pro­grams and has amassed almost 50 years of expe­ri­ence in STOVL devel­op­ment. Har­ri­er (the first oper­a­tional mil­i­tary air­craft in the world to use rev­o­lu­tion­ary ver­ti­cal take-off and land­ing) entered ser­vice with the Roy­al Air Force in 1969 and is still involved in front-line oper­a­tions some 40 years after enter­ing ser­vice. The AV-8B Har­ri­er II has been oper­at­ed by the Unit­ed States Marine Corps since 1985. Through such lega­cy expe­ri­ence in STOVL tech­nol­o­gy, BAE Sys­tems is a vital part­ner not only to the devel­op­ment but also the oper­a­tional effec­tive­ness and ongo­ing sup­port of the F‑35 Light­ning II air­craft.

The oth­er two vari­ants of the air­craft in devel­op­ment are a con­ven­tion­al take­off and land­ing air­craft for the U.S. Air Force and a car­ri­er take­off and land­ing air­craft for the U.S. Navy. The con­ven­tion­al take­off pre-pro­duc­tion air­craft first flew in Decem­ber 2006 and the car­ri­er vari­ant is expect­ed to fly in 2010. The F‑35 Light­ning II is the world’s largest defense pro­gram with stat­ed require­ments from ini­tial cus­tomers at approx­i­mate­ly 3,000 air­craft.

About BAE Sys­tems

BAE Sys­tems is a glob­al defence, secu­ri­ty and aero­space com­pa­ny with approx­i­mate­ly 107,000 employ­ees world­wide. The Com­pa­ny deliv­ers a full range of prod­ucts and ser­vices for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced elec­tron­ics, secu­ri­ty, infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy solu­tions and cus­tomer sup­port ser­vices. In 2009 BAE Sys­tems report­ed sales of £22.4 bil­lion (US$ 36.2 bil­lion).

Text- / Bildquelle (source): BAE Sys­tems
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