F-35 'AG-1' (designed for ground testing) is loaded onto
a ship at the Port of Houston before its voyage to a BAE
Systems testing facility in Brough, England. The F-35
arrived safely on April 27. 4/5/09
4/27/2009 - FORT WORTH, TX -- After a three-week ocean voyage,
a static-test version of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning
II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, has arrived in the
United Kingdom. The F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL)
variant aircraft, called AG-1, will undergo testing in the Structural
and Dynamic Test facility at BAE Systems’ site in Brough,
East Yorkshire, England.
Mick Ord, BAE Systems' managing director of the F-35 Lightning
II business said, "This is another major milestone in the
F-35 program and we’re delighted to take delivery of the
full-scale static testing airframe. BAE Systems is a principal
subcontractor to Lockheed Martin on the F-35 program and brings
military aircraft expertise that is critical to the F-35 Lightning
II airframe and systems. We lead on several work share areas,
of which structural testing is one."
AG-1 began its travels on March 27 at Lockheed Martin’s
Fort Worth, Tex., plant. It was shipped overland to the Texas
coast, where it was placed aboard a U.K.-bound cargo ship. AG-1
is one of six static test airframes constructed for the System
Development and Demonstration phase of the F-35 Lightning II
program, which is developing and validating all of the aircraft’s
systems and manufacturing techniques. Another 13 F-35s are dedicated
to flight testing.
"The work BAE Systems is performing on AG-1 highlights
just one of the United Kingdom’s many indigenous industrial
capabilities that this program relies upon," said Tom Burbage,
Lockheed Martin executive vice president and general manager
of F-35 Program Integration. "We are conducting the largest-ever
test program for a fighter, and the BAE Systems structural test
facilities expand our bandwidth and help us maintain our schedule."
Ord added, "BAE Systems is responsible for carrying out
a large percentage of the structural and fatigue testing required
to qualify all three of the F-35 variants. Some testing has
been carried out on smaller components, but this will be among
the first of the full airframe tests to be carried out."
The Structural and Dynamic Test Facility at Brough is BAE Systems'
center of excellence for structural testing, responsible for
providing evidence that airframes meet the design requirements
for structural strength and durability.
The F-35 airframe will be connected to a highly complex test
rig in which 165 hydraulic actuators will replicate the loads
the aircraft would see in flight. The data from the test will
be captured by 4,000 sensors bonded to the airframe.
The test rig itself weighs around 365 tons and has approximately
53 miles (85km) of wiring spread around it to connect all the
systems and sensors. The computing power available to control
the load applications is roughly the equivalent of 25 high-specification
Testing is planned to begin in late July and will take about
15 months, certifying the strength of the airframe and its components
and contributing to the aircraft’s flight envelope expansion
requirements. Upon completion of its static testing program,
AG-1 will be shipped back to the U.S.
The F-35 is being built in three variants: conventional takeoff
and landing, short takeoff/ vertical landing (STOVL) and carrier
variant (CV). CTOL and CV durability airframe tests will also
be undertaken at BAE Systems Brough site. Static testing of
other F-35 airframes is under way at Lockheed Martin’s
Fort Worth facility.
In March, the U.K. Ministry of Defence announced it intends
to order three instrumented STOVL F-35 Lightning II test aircraft
and associated support equipment for Operational Test and Evaluation
The F-35 airframe, AG-1, departed Lockheed Martin’s site
at Fort Worth, Texas, on April 5, crossing the Atlantic by ship
before arriving at the port of Hull on April 24. The airframe
was transferred by barge up the river Humber, and lifted by
crane onto BAE Systems' Brough site on the morning of April
The airframe was transported with wings and canopy installed
to the main fuselage, and was shrink-wrapped to provide protection
against the elements. The resulting shipment was 51 feet long,
35 feet wide and 13.5 feet high, and weighed some 22 tons.
The Structural and Dynamic Test Facility has been performing
to the highest standards for over 50 years. The Brough facility
is a modern, purpose designed complex, comprising four large
test halls, development laboratories and supporting infrastructure.
Currently also undergoing tests in the Structural and Dynamic
Test Facility are Nimrod MRA4, Hawk and Typhoon airframes.
Source: Lockheed Press Release