The modified Boeing 737-330 JSF Test Bed takes off from
2/12/2007 - FORT WORTH, TX -- The Cooperative Avionics Test
Bed, a highly modified 737 designed to validate the Lockheed
Martin F-35 Lightning II’s powerful avionics, has satisfied
all test objectives within its initial flight-clearance envelope.
The “CATBird,” which has completed eight test missions
and logged 24.8 hours, is now poised to receive additional flight
clearance. CATBird will develop and verify the F-35's capability
to collect data from multiple sensors and fuse it into a coherent
situational awareness display in a dynamic airborne environment.
“The CATBird test program is executing to plan, with
no significant issues,” said Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin
executive vice president and F-35 program general manager. “We
will now open up the flight envelope, which is within the 737’s
operating limits.” BAE Systems is responsible for the
Meanwhile, the first Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II has
successfully tested a wide range of aircraft systems and demonstrated
uncommon reliability since its inaugural flight December 15.
The first F-35A "AA-1" flies over Texas.
“F-35 AA-1 is truly proving its worth as a pathfinder
air vehicle. Complex subsystems deemed high-risk just a few
months ago are performing flawlessly,” said Brig. Gen.
C.R. Davis, F-35 program executive officer. “Early flight
test results show we are on a path to largely validate the design
and aircraft systems – we are not entering a period of
The aircraft has made a total of seven flights and is proving
its reliability through the flight test program as it proceeds
toward airworthiness certification. “The F-35’s
extraordinary reliability relates directly to the rigorous ground
testing and laboratory testing our team used to validate systems
before we ever flew,” said Doug Pearson, vice president
of the F-35 Integrated Test Force.
The aircraft so far has flown at 23,000 feet and achieved speeds
of Mach 0.8 and a 16-degree angle of attack. The flights also
served to calibrate the air-data system while evaluating basic
maneuvering with the landing gear both retracted and extended.
On the fifth flight, F-35 Chief Test Pilot Jon Beesley lit the
afterburner for the first time and unleashed 40,000 pounds of
thrust – more power than any fighter engine in history.
The airborne tests also have evaluated the speed-brake function,
the fuel-dump process, the approach power compensator (an auto-throttle
mode for landing), and tests of the radio, communication and
Revolutionary internal systems on the aircraft have performed
exceptionally well, including unique actuators that drive control
surfaces primarily using electricity instead of a hydraulic
system. Another device that for the first time combines the
engine starter, the generator, the emergency power supply and
the environmental-control system into a single unit also has
continued to operate successfully.
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 United
Kingdom Harrier GR.7s and Sea Harriers.
Lockheed Martin is developing the Lightning II 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
Source: Lockheed Press Release