A Lockheed Martin F-35B Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) completed its first night short take-off and vertical landing during a test sortie at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, on 2 April.
According to Lockheed and the Pentagon’s F-35 joint programme office (JPO), US Marine Corps test pilot Maj CR Clift conducted the flight to gather data on the aircraft’s helmet and lighting conditions for night time operations. The F-35 JPO says that the flight was conducted using the aircraft’s original Vision Systems International helmet-mounted display equipped with the older Intevac ISIE-10 night vision camera rather than the updated ISIE-11 model.
“The completion of this test event demonstrates the F-35B is one step closer to delivering a critical capability to the US Marine Corps and F-35B partners in the United Kingdom and Italy,” says Lt Gen Chris Bogdan, the F-35 programme executive officer. “There is plenty of work to be done and progress to be made, but we’re on a solid path forward.”
The test was flown as part of ongoing efforts to prepare for the jet for the second of three scheduled sea-trials for the F-35. The first F-35 ship trials happened in October 2011, when two F-35Bs performed 72 vertical landings and take-offs aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp off the Virginia coast. The first two ship-borne test periods are for developmental testing while the third is for operational evaluations.
There is no definitive schedule yet for the second F-35B sea-trial onboard USS Wasp.