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Wind tunnel tests contribute to first flight of F-35

by Philip Lorenz III
Arnold Engineering Development Center Public Affairs

6/18/2008 - ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. (AFPN) -- The June 11 completion of the first flight of the short takeoff/vertical landing version of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter resonated with Air Force engineers at the Arnold Engineering Development Center here.

"A number of us at AEDC can take pride in the part we played in supporting this program with aerodynamic testing of the airframe and dedicated performance testing of the engine in our development test cells," said Marc Skelley, the senior F-35 project manager assigned to the 716th Test Squadron here. "We've tested all three versions in the wind tunnels. There's not a lot of difference aerodynamically between the carrier takeoff and landing and short takeoff/vertical landing versions. The carrier version has much larger wings for creating more lift necessary to land on a carrier deck."

More than 10,000 hours of testing have been logged on the F-35 aircraft and engines in the wind tunnels and jet engine test cells at AEDC.

"Over 2,000 engine test hours for the carrier takeoff and landing and short takeoff/vertical landing versions of the F135 engines have been logged in propulsion test cells in preparation for this event," said Marcos O. Moré, the senior Aerospace Testing Alliance F135 project manager at AEDC. "We take great pride in the contributions we have made in order to reach this very important milestone."

The F-35B will provide a combination of capabilities never before available: stealth, supersonic speed and short takeoff/vertical landing flexibility. Initial flights of the first F-35B will be conventional takeoff and landing, with transitions to short takeoff/vertical landing flight beginning in early 2009.

F-35 Lightning IIs will replace a wide range of existing aircraft, including A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, F-16 Fighting Falcons, F/A-18 Hornets and Harriers. The STOVL version of the F-35 will be used by the U.S. Marines and the British Royal Navy.

The F-35 program is the world's largest military project, involving 11 countries and employing about 20,000 people worldwide.

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