Tuesday, October 23, 2012

So how is F-35 testing going?

Apparently quite well:
Flight-testing of the Lockheed Martin F-35 is ahead of the 2012 plan, and software development is making up lost ground, now standing at two months behind schedule. Steve O’Bryan, Lockheed Martin’s v-p for F-35 program integration and business development, told a meeting in London sponsored by The Air League that the F-35B STOVL version that the UK will buy is 40 percent ahead on flights and test points. Of the nine million lines of software code in the aircraft, 87 percent is now in flight test, with another 6 percent in laboratory tests. In response to earlier concerns, Lockheed Martin established a second software laboratory at its Fort Worth facility, at a cost of $150 million and employing 200 more people.
In fact, the 2nd F-35B for the UK (along with the 11th for the USMC) has been delivered to Eglin AFB.

There was also a helmet update made available:
O’Bryan also described the status of efforts to resolve development problems with the F-35’s unique helmet-mounted sight. In the latest simulations, the device demonstrated a latency of only 130 milliseconds, against a 150-millisecond requirement. A new near-infrared camera to improve night-vision acuity is being tested at MIT Lincoln Laboratories and will be flight-tested next year. The “micro-IMUs” (inertial measurement units) that are designed to solve the “jitter” problem are already in-flight-test.
Most people who were familiar with the problems the helmet was suffering also were confident that the fixes were available.  Apparently the latency problem is now well within standard and the night vision fix is close and the jitter fix is in testing.

The F-35 flight envelope has now been extended to 700 knots, 7g and 20 degrees angle of attack, with higher AOAs to be flown later this year, O’Bryan continued. An F-35A dropped a 2,000-pound GBU-31 BLU-109 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) for the first time this week, from the left internal weapons bay. This follows the first F-35 weapons release, of a 1,000-pound GBU-32, which took place in August. AIM-9X AAMs are flying on outboard wing stations. Forty five F-35s are flying today; another 15 have been rolled out, and the 112th aircraft is now on the final assembly line. Twenty aircraft are now at Eglin AFB, the initial training base; deliveries for the first operational units will be made to Yuma MCAS and Nellis AFB before year-end.
The F-35 also executed it's first AMRAAM relase (Oct. 19th).

Note the last sentence.  The plan, apparently, as has been mentioned in media accounts, is the first two operational F-35 squadrons will stand up in November - next month.  

This is a far cry from the reports that were in the media as little as two years ago, not that there aren't still those out there pushing dated criticism, a result one assumes of laziness and an unwillingness to actually research the current status of the program.


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