LOS ANGELES — The short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing (Stovl) variant has been cleared for high-angle-of-attack (high alpha) testing following completion of engine restart evaluations in August.
Although testing of the F-35B for the U.S., the U.K. and Italy is based at NAS Patuxent River, Md., air-start trials for all variants of the Joint Strike Fighter are being undertaken at Edwards AFB, Calif., where pilots can make the most of the large airspace and dry lakebed landing spots in the R-2508 range complex.
In all, 27 air starts were completed at various altitudes using the F-35B test aircraft BF-2. It was ferried to Edwards for the air-start work from Patuxent River, along with anchase aircraft from Air Test and Evaluation Sqdn. (VX) 23.
“The Edwards range is comprised of 20,000 square miles of airspace, and has 65 linear miles of usable landing area on Rogers and Rosamond Dry Lakes, if required during engine-out testing,” says Lt. Col. George Schwartz, commander of the 461st Flight Test Sqdn. and government site director. In a statement, Schwartz notes that “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.”
Meanwhile, high alpha testing of the F-35A variant for the U.S. Air Force is expected to start later this month following work to attach an anti-spin parachute on test airframe AF-4.
Under the upcoming phase, pilots will assess handling qualities and departure resistance while gradually increasing the F-35A angle-of-attack toward its preset limit of 50 deg. alpha.