The U.S. Navy will conduct developmental and operational tests of seven Lockheed Martin-built F-35B Lightning II aircraft aboard an amphibious assault ship.
Five of the seven F-35B short take-off and vertical-landing variant are scheduled to enter the operational testing phase onboard the USS America (LHA-6) vessel while the remaining two fighter jets will begin the third phase of the shipboard developmental test, the Navy said Monday.
Lt. Col. Tom “Sally” Fields, F-35 Patuxent River integrated test force government flight test director assigned to air test and evaluation squadron 23, said the F-35 Pax River ITF and VX 23 will subject F-35Bs to developmental test over the next three weeks to assess how the fighter jet operates in the “3F configuration.“
The marine operational test and evaluation squadron 1 will conduct operational tests of the STOVL aircraft aboard USS America in an effort to prepare pilots and maintenance crews for the jet's initial deployment aboard the USS Wasp (LHD 1) ship, Fields added.
USS America is designed to accommodate F-35Bs, MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft and helicopters from both the Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.