AA-1, the first F-35A test aircraft, has concluded three weeks of productive flight testing at Edwards AFB, Calif., and is returning home to Lockheed Martin’s plant in Fort Worth, Tex., the company announced yesterday. AA-1 arrived Oct. 1 at Edwards from Fort Worth, marking its first visit to the California test site. While there, flight activities focused on a set of tests to validate the aircraft’s ability to shut down and restart its engine in flight. These were successful, the company said. “The initial data review and pilot-reported results are very favorable and meet or exceed our expectations,” explained Doug Pearson, Lockheed Martin vice president of the F-35 integrated test force. With these tests under its belt, the F-35 program is gearing to expand the test envelope in future flights at Edwards and NAS Patuxent River, Md., the company said. AA-1 has now completed 63 flights, Lockheed said. BF-1, the first F-35B short-takeoff test aircraft, began flying in June. By the end of 2009, all 19 F-35 test aircraft are expected to be flying, the company noted.
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.