F-35B Completes First Airborne Engine Start Tests



Edwards Det | BF-02 Flt 213 | Dan Canin piloting BF-02 performing airstarts over Edwards AFB. Credit: PAO, Edwards AFB

(Excerpt) Edwards AFB Release

The short take-off and vertical landing variant of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter successfully completed a major prerequisite test for in-flight performance Aug. 15.

BF-2 completed the first air starts, which test the ability of the F-35’s propulsion system to restart during flight. Verifying the restart capability of the propulsion system is part of the initial flight test program for the F-35 and a prerequisite for high angle-of-attack testing, scheduled to start next year.

“High alpha, or angle-of-attack tests, are important for us to fully evaluate the aircraft’s handling characteristics and warfighting capability,” said Marine Corps test pilot Lt. Col. Matthew Kelly. “Maximizing the performance of the airplane around the very slow edges of the flight envelope is probably some of the most challenging testing we will conduct. After we get through it, we’ll know a lot more about how this aircraft will perform during combat within visual range.”

Using multiple restart methods during the tests, BF-2 successfully completed 27 air starts at various altitudes.

To execute air start testing, the F-35 Integrated Test Force (ITF) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River ferried BF-2 and an F/A-18 chase aircraft from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 to the F-35A testing facility at Edwards AFB.

“At Edwards, we have a unique testing range, which provides ideal and controlled conditions for completing air start testing. The Edwards range is comprised of 20,000 square miles of airspace, and has 65 linear miles of useable landing area on Rogers and Rosamond Dry Lakes, if required during engine out testing,” said Lt. Col. George N. Schwartz, Commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and Government Site Director. “In addition, we’ve recently completed air start testing on the F-35A, so we’re able to share some of our expertise with the Pax team as well.”

For other SLD discussions with and about “Squirt” Kelly see the following: