Lockheed Martin’s first F-35, designated AA-1, has flown seven times. Jon Beesley, Lockheed’s F-35 chief test pilot, told reporters covering AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando Wednesday that the only flaws in the test flights so far was inconsistency between air data probes, which were “tweaked” and now work fine. The gear was raised on the second through seventh flights, and the speed brakes tested. The speed brake is not a dedicated surface that juts into the airstream—as on most previous fighters—but an all-around deflection of various control surfaces. Beesley also performed a fuel dump, which went fine. With few exceptions, the aircraft matches simulations with very high fidelity, Beesley reported. (Read more from the chief test pilot in “Strike Fighter, not Fighter.”)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.