Lockheed Martin has announced the completion of the final flight test of the F-35 program’s system development and demonstration phase.
The company and the military completed the final SDD test flight Wednesday by flying the U.S. Navy’s F-35C test aircraft, CF-2, at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland to assess the fighter jet’s capability to gather loads data and carry 2,000-pound external payloads, Lockheed said Thursday.
External payloads include the GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munitions and AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles.
“Since the first flight of AA-1 in 2006, the developmental flight test program has operated for more than 11 years mishap-free, conducting more than 9,200 sorties, accumulating over 17,000 flight hours, and executing more than 65,000 test points to verify the design, durability, software, sensors, weapons capability and performance for all three F-35 variants,” said Vice Adm. Mat Winter, F-35 program executive officer.
Lockheed said the F-35 test team involving at least 1,000 flight test engineers, pilots, maintainers and support staff performed 183 weapon separation tests, 33 mission effectiveness tests and 46 weapons delivery accuracy tests.
Flight tests of the fighter jet will continue as part of the joint program office’s Continuous Capability Development and Delivery program.
The conclusion of the SDD phase will occur once the F-35 program completes the operational test and evaluation phase and the Defense Department decides to move the program to full-rate production phase.