F-35 Goes Supersonic

In its first demonstration of supersonic flight, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter flew Nov. 13 at Mach 1.05 or about 680 mph—and carried the weight of a full internal weapons load, according to a Nov. 14 company release. “The F-35 transitioned from subsonic to supersonic just as our engineers and our computer modeling had predicted,” said Jon Beesley, Lockheed’s chief F-35 test pilot, commenting, too, on its retention of “precise handling qualities” at that high speed. Beesley flew the conventional takeoff and landing F-35 AA-1 from Lockheed’s Fort Worth, Tex., production facility, climbing to 30,000 feet and accelerating to Mach 1.05 over a rural area in north Texas for a period of eight minutes and four transitions through the sound barrier, stated the release. Future testing will take the aircraft to its top speed of Mach 1.6 with a full weapons load. Beesley noted that it was significant that the F-35 had achieved its first supersonic flight with a full load.