F-35A’s Baseline Shuffle

The Air Force’s F-35A strike fighter variant was 30 percent behind planned baseline test points at end of November due to factors like “aircraft operating limitations” and the need for additional testing of the weapon bay doors, Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s operational testing chief, told Congress in his 2012 annual report. The F-35 test team completed 1,338 baseline flight sciences test points for the F-35A out of a planned 1,923 through November, according to the report, released on Jan. 11. This included activities like evaluating the jet’s flying qualities while carrying internal and external weapons and high angle-of-attack testing. To compensate for not being able to complete the 2012 baseline test points, the test team moved up test points planned for completion in later years, and “was thereby able to nearly keep pace with overall cumulative” test points, states the report. According to Lockheed Martin’s Jan. 11 release on the F-35 program’s achievements in 2012, F-35A test aircraft accomplished 2,573 flight science test points for the entire year. Company spokesman Mike Rein confirmed to the Daily Report that this total was possible by moving forward test points originally planned for later. (DOT&E report)