Tag Archives: Patuxent River

First Atlantic crossing for F-35

UPDATED 6 February | The first Italian-made F-35A Lightning II is all set to start the type’s first ever Transatlantic flight to the US on Tuesday 2 February, sources in Italy confirm. A Boeing KC-767 tanker aircraft and a two seater Eurofighter Typhoon accompany the brand new fighter aircraft on its way, which includes a stop over at Lajes airbase in the Azores.

Update | The flight was delayed on 2 February due to weather. The F-35 left Italy on Wednesday 3 February and arrived in Lajes, Portugal, later in the day. A picture of the aircraft in Lajes is here. The F-35 and accompanying aircraft finally arrived at Patuxent River in the US on Friday 5 February.

An F-35A in its natural element. (Image © Frank Crébas/ Bluelifeaviation.com)
Related reading: Dutch Lightning testers. (Image © Frank Crébas/ Bluelifeaviation.com)

Subject to weather, the aircraft leaves Cameri and joins up with the tanker aircraft and Typhoon for the flight. The F-35 was produced at Cameri by FNM Aeronautics under the watchful eye of Lockheed Martin, first flew on 7 September 2015 and was then delivered to the Italian Air Force on 3 December 2015. It was the very first F-35 to be produced outside the US.


An Italian Air Force pilot from the test squadron at Pratica di Mare will fly the F-35 on its flight over Atlantic, the very first of this kind for the new generation stealth aircraft. In the backseat of the Typhoon will be another Italian F-35 pilot. The flight to Lajes is expected to take 4.5 hours. Air-to-air refueling with the KC-767 was validated last year in the US.

The F-35 performed trials with the KC-767 tanker last year in preparation for the Atlantic crossing. (Image © Lockheed Martin)
The F-35 performed trials with the KC-767 tanker last year in preparation for the Atlantic crossing. (Image © Lockheed Martin)

Tests and training

After the stop over in Lajes, another 6.5 hour flight takes the F-35 and two accompanying aircraft to Naval Air Station Patuxent River in the US. The F-35 will then remain there for six weeks for tests, before finally moving on to Luke Air Force Base. Here, the aircraft wil be used to train Italian pilots.

The second Italian made F-35 is now performing test flights at Cameri and will be among four more Italian aircraft to follow the same route later this year. By the end of 2016, the sixth aircraft produced in Cameri will be the first to remain in Italy. Cameri will also see production of Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) jets.

Italy formally has eight F-35s on order and is still debating the final number of aircraft to be ordered. That number is expected to be 90, after dropping from 131 earlier.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: The first Italian built F-35 seen during its first flight in September. (Image © Lockheed Martin)

Testing the F-35 Lightning II

Trap! An F-35C takes the wire at Patuxent River. (Image © Lockheed Martin / Dane Wiedmann)

It was an important week for the F-35 Lightning II, US aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin reported on Friday 30 May. In three separate flight tests on May 27, the new fighter demonstrated air-to-air combat capability, completed the first flight test with the next level software load and accomplished a landing at the maximum test speed and drop rate.

In the Point Mugu Sea Test Range airspace off the Central California coast, an F-35B demonstrated the jet’s air-to-air combat capability when it sequentially engaged two aerial targets with two AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) during a Weapon Delivery Accuracy mission.

Test pilot Lt. Col. Andrew ‘Growler’ Allen tracked two maneuvering drone targets, making the very first dual AMRAAM shot from any F-35 variant, and the first live AMRAAM shot from the F-35B Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant.

The U.S. Marine Corps operates F-35Bs and will be the first military service branch to attain combat-ready Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 2015.

Flying from Edwards Air Force Base, an F-35A flew a 1.9 hour mission with the first-ever load of Block 3i hardware and software. Block 3i is the next level of capability and is planned to support U.S. Air Force F-35A IOC in 2016.

The F-35C, designed for aircraft carrier operations, completed a landing at its maximum sink speed to test the aircraft’s landing gear, airframe and arrestment system at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.  Five sorties were conducted, building up the maximum sink rate test condition of 21.4 feet per second. During the tests, the F-35C did three arrestments, several touch and goes and one bolter. The landings were to demonstrate structural readiness for arrested landings on an aircraft carrier at sea.

Fleet-wide, the F-35 has, to date, amassed more than 17,000 flight hours, with all three variant aircraft at the F-35 Integrated Training Center at Eglin AFB, Florida, surpassing the 5,000 sorties milestone this week.

The U.S. Air Force and Navy intend to attain IOC on the F-35 Lightning II in 2016 and 2018, respectively.

Source: Lockheed Martin

Advanced Super Hornet into 3rd month of existence

First flight of the F/A-18E/F Advanced Super Hornet with conformal fuel tanks and Enclosed Weapons Pod. Taken at August 7, 2013. (Image © Boeing)
First flight of the F/A-18E/F Advanced Super Hornet with conformal fuel tanks and Enclosed Weapons Pod. Taken at August 7, 2013. (Image © Boeing)

The next model of the F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter/strike aircraft ends its second month of existence with the Boeing and Northrop Grumman companies in St. Louis. The so-called Advanced Super Hornet is probably the last attempt to sell a concept originally developed in the late 1970s by McDonnell Douglas.

In August test pilots took the Advanced Super Hornet, which is in fact a F/A-18E with loads of extra gimmicks, through 21 flight tests from St. Louis and NAS Patuxent River to see if the upgraded aircraft would do well.

The Advanced Super Hornet has conformal fuel tanks (CFT), which gives the aircraft an additional combat radius of 130 nautical miles (240 km) to be able to strike within a radius of 700 nautical miles (1296 km), meaning loaded with weapons it can hurt the enemy a bit further than before. An enclosed weapons pod (EWP) gives the aircraft a lower radar profile if the other external hardpoints are not used. Boeing and Grumman, together with GE Aviation and Raytheon, still work on Infrared Search and Track, a better engine and a totally new cockpit.

Boeing hopes to interest potential customers to directly order the Advanced Super Hornet upgrade, or buy the additional Christmas package for one’s existing F/A-18E/F Block II Super Hornet. According to its manufacturer the new stuff will get the old Super Hornet into the advanced 2030s air war.

© 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger with source information of Boeing