View Full Version : F-35B marks another first

08-18-2009, 11:29 AM
F-35B marks another first

By Amy McCullough - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Aug 18, 2009 10:59:11 EDT

The Corps’ version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter passed another milestone in August when it was successfully refueled in the air by a Marine KC-130.

The test, which took place over Fort Worth, Texas, was the first in a “short series” that will clear the way for the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variant for extended-range flights, officials for Lockheed Martin, the fighter’s manufacturer, said in a news release.

“The F-35 program is on the cusp of a tremendous expansion in flight test as a large number of new aircraft enter the test fleet this year and early next year,” Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin’s executive vice president and F-35 program general manager, said in the release.

During the tests the aircraft will upload fuel from the tanker at 10,000, 15,000 and 20,000 feet — at speeds ranging from 230 to 288 mph — using a probe-and-drogue refueling system, a flexible hose that trails from the tanker and connects to the receiving aircraft with a “basketlike drogue” at the end.

The Aug. 13 flight was the first time an F-35 completed an aerial refueling test using the Marine Corps and Navy’s refueling system. Maj. Joseph T. “O.D.” Bachmann was at the fighter’s controls.

The Corps is scheduled to begin fielding the JSF in 2012. The first F-35 training pipeline will open later this year at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., creating a joint training wing that will feed pilots and maintainers into the Corps, Navy and Air Force during the next five years.

The training wing, expected to standup Oct. 1, will spawn the first squadrons for all three services and create the first career paths for the largest fighter jet program in history.