A UK test team including personnel from BAE Systems, has successfully completed initial aircraft handling trials for ASRAAM (Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile) and Paveway IV weapons on the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II aircraft at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland, United States.
The trial or «dummy» weapons rounds, which are identical in fit and form to the operational weapons, were tested on the Short Take-off Vertical Landing (STOVL) F-35B for the first time during a series of flights from the U.S. Navy’s test facility at Patuxent River Naval Air Station. The initial tests are an important step in integrating weapons onto the F-35B, allowing test pilots to understand how they affect the way the aircraft performs and handles.
The UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) already uses ASRAAM and Paveway IV on its existing combat air fleet. The successful tests are a step towards full interoperability between the current and future fast jets that will be used by the RAF and the UK’s Royal Navy from 2018.
Two F-35B STOVL aircraft, flown by Billie Flynn, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 test pilot and Squadron Leader Andy Edgell from the RAF, completed nine flights with MBDA’s ASRAAM missiles and Raytheon’s Paveway IV laser guided bombs. The flights involved different configurations of both weapons types on the aircraft.
The successful tests will be followed by the next stage of weapons testing due to take place in early 2015. These tests will involve weapon separation and then guided releases of both ASRAAM and Paveway IV from the aircraft.
BAE Systems’ lead test pilot for F-35, Pete Wilson, said: «The team at Patuxent River has got over two thousand hours of flying under their belts for the F-35B variant and the handling and performance of the aircraft has shone through throughout. These latest trials were no exception and help us to move confidently into the next phase of weapons testing».
J.D. McFarlan, Lockheed Martin’s Vice President for F-35 Test & Verification from the Joint Strike Fighter programme added: «These trials show the truly international nature of the F-35 enterprise – being led out of a U.S. Navy facility, involving a joint U.K. Ministry of Defence and industry team, working alongside the U.S. Department of Defence and Lockheed Martin. And the test results for one partner will benefit all, further demonstrating the versatility and capability of the F-35 as a multi-role platform».
Modern security challenges require a wide distribution of forces and the ability to operate successfully in a broad range of scenarios. Protecting freedom and ensuring security in today’s battlespace calls for an unprecedented aircraft.
For the first time in aviation history, the most lethal fighter characteristics – supersonic speed, radar-evading stealth, extreme agility and Short Take-off Vertical Landing – have been combined in a single platform; the F-35B.
With the F-35B Lightning II in their fleet, expeditionary forces, like the U.S. Marine Corps, have a decisive advantage over their adversaries. The F-35B’s versatility, as demonstrated onboard the USS Wasp (LHD-1), will revolutionize expeditionary combat power in all threat environments by allowing operations from major bases, damaged airstrips, remote locations and a wide range of air-capable ships. The F-35B gives warfighters the ability to accomplish their mission, wherever and whenever duty calls.
Length: 51.2 ft/15.6 m
Height: 14.3 ft/4.36 m
Wingspan: 35 ft/10.7 m
Wing area: 460 ft2/42.7 m2
Horizontal tail span: 21.8 ft/6.65 m
Weight empty: 32,300 lb/14,651 kg
Internal fuel capacity: 13,500 lb/6,125 kg
Weapons payload: 15,000 lb/6,800 kg
Maximum weight: 60,000 lb class/27,215 kg
Standard internal weapons load: Two AIM-120C air-to-air missiles
Two 2,000-pound (907 kg) GBU-31 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) guided bombs
Propulsion (uninstalled thrust ratings): F135-PW-600
Maximum Power (with afterburner): 41,000 lbs/182,4 kN/ 18,597 kgf
Military Power (without afterburner): 27,000 lbs/120,1 kN/ 12,247 kgf
Short Take Off Thrust: 40,740 lbs/181,2 kN/18,479 kgf
Hover Thrust: 40,650 lbs/180,8 kN/18,438 kgf
Main Engine: 18,680 lbs/83,1 kN/8,473 kgf
Lift Fan: 18,680 lbs/83,1 kN/8,473 kgf
Roll Post: 3,290 lbs/14,6 kN/1,492 kgf
Length: 369 in/9.37 m
Main Engine Inlet Diameter: 43 in/1.09 m
Main Engine Maximum Diameter: 46 in/1.17 m
Lift Fan Inlet Diameter: 51 in/1,30 m
Lift Fan Maximum Diameter: 53 in/1,34 m
Conventional Bypass Ratio: 0.57
Powered Lift Bypass Ratio: 0.51
Conventional Overall Pressure Ratio: 28
Powered Lift Overall Pressure Ratio: 29
Speed (full internal weapons load): Mach 1.6 (~1,200 mph/ 1931 km/h)
Combat radius (internal fuel): >450 NM/833 km
Range (internal fuel): >900 NM/1667 km
Max g-rating: 7.0
U.S. Marine Corps: 340;
U.K. Royal Air Force/Royal Navy: 138;
In total: 508