The F-35 reached another testing milestone this month, as the second production F-35A for the Air Force became the first F-35 Lightning II to reach 1,000 flight hours. The aircraft, due to be operational for the Air Force in 2016, reached the milestone while undergoing testing at Edwards Air Force Base.
From the release:
"AF-2's nickname is 'Workhorse,'” said Randy Thompson, the F-35 Integrated Test Force, government air vehicle lead. "It continues to carry the Flight Sciences testing load, executing its primary mission of loads envelope expansion. Every AF-2 flight-test hour moves the JSF (Joint Strike Fighter) enterprise closer to providing our warriors with the Air Force Initial Operational Capability (IOC) and final system development and demonstration maneuvering envelopes.”
Thompson added that data collected from all Flight Sciences aircraft help refine the airframe usage spectrum, which in turn allows for a more accurate fleet life determination.
"AF-2 is the ‘Pull Gs jet,'” Thompson said. “It was the first aircraft to hit + 9 G and -3 G and to roll at design-load factor. In addition, AF-2 is the first F-35A to intentionally fly in significant airframe buffet at all angles of attack."
Both AF-2 and AF-1 ferried to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., from the Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth, Texas, May 17, 2010.