X-35 - Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)
The first X-35 concept demonstrator aircraft left the runway at Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, California at 0906 PST on 24 October 2000. The X-35A landed shortly thereafter at Edwards Air Force Base, California and began a rigorous flight test program.
On 7 November 2000, the X-35A took on fuel from a KC-135 tanker for the first time, enabling the aircraft to complete its longest flight to date: 2 hours and 50 minutes. The X-35A successfully completed its flight-test program on 22 November 2000, logging 27 flights in 30 days and achieving the first JSF supersonic flight on 21 November 2000, before it was returned to Palmdale in order to be converted to the STOVL X-35B.
The X-35B was scheduled to fly during spring 2001. The X-35B features a unique shaft-driven lift fan that amplifies engine thrust and reduces exhaust temperature and velocity during STOVL operations.
The X-35C, designed to satisfy U.S. Navy requirements, features a larger wing and control surfaces than the other JSF variants, and has an increased-capacity structure for absorbing catapult launches and arrested landings. This variant of the Lockheed Martin JSF family first flew on 16 December 2000. Afterwards, the X-35C began a series of envelope-expansion flights and on 25 January 2001, the X-35C completed tanker qualification trials with a series of air-to-air refuelings behind an U.S. Air Force KC-10. The X-35C then completed its first supersonic flight on 31 January 2001 before being ferried from Edwards Air Force Base, California to Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Maryland.
The X-35C touched down at Patuxent River NAS on 10 February 2001, completing the first-ever transcontinental flight of a JSF demonstrator aircraft and initiating a series of flight tests that demonstrated carrier suitability in sea-level conditions. The X-35C's flight-test program included a series of Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) tests to evaluate the aircraft's handling qualities and performance during carrier approaches and landings at an airfield, and also included up-and-away handling-quality tests and engine transients at varying speeds and altitudes.
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