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thedrifter
01-31-08, 09:10 PM
USAF test flies LM F-35 Lightning II
Published: Jan. 31, 2008 at 8:36 PM

FORT WORTH, Texas, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force has carried out its first evaluation flight of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.

"Lt. Col. James 'Flipper' Kromberg of the U.S. Air Force became the first military service pilot to evaluate the F-35 Lightning II, taking the aircraft through a series of maneuvers Wednesday on its 26th flight," Lockheed Martin said in a statement.

"Kromberg took off from Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth plant at 11:54 a.m. CST, flew the plane to 6,000 feet and checked handling qualities at 15-degrees angle of attack. He then climbed to 10,000 and 12,000 feet assessing the up-and-away flight-control response. Kromberg also tested the F-35's engine performance and formation-flying characteristics," the company said.

"The aircraft flew very well, exceeding my expectations," Kromberg said. "I was surprised by the amount of power on the takeoff roll. And the handling, particularly with the gear up, was phenomenal. The aircraft was very stable flying in formation with another airplane. It was really a joy to fly."

"With a planned acquisition of 1,763 F-35s, the U.S. Air Force is our biggest customer, and we've been eager to get their feedback about the aircraft's flight performance," said Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager. "This is the beginning of what will become a rigorous and extended series of in-flight evaluations by the Air Force, Marines, Navy and our international pilots."

Lockheed Martin said its test pilot Jeff Knowles flew the F-35's 27th flight later Wednesday.

"The F-35 is a supersonic, multi-role, 5th generation stealth fighter designed to replace a wide range of existing aircraft, including AV-8B Harriers, A-10s, F-16s, F/A-18 Hornets and (British) Harrier GR.7s and Sea Harriers," the company said.

Lockheed Martin said it was "developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. Two separate, interchangeable F-35 engines are under development: the Pratt & Whitney F135 and the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team F136."

Ellie