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Fri, Jan 20, 2012

F-35A Performs First Night Flight

Lokckheed Martin Says It Has A Fix For The JSF's Fuel Dump System

The first night flight in the history of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Program was completed Wednesday at Edwards Air Force Base, CA. Piloted by Lockheed Martin Test Pilot Mark Ward, AF-6, an F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, launched at 1705 PST and landed after sunset at 1822. The mission consisted of a series of straight in approaches in twilight and darkness. The pilot also performed an evaluation of the F-35’s cockpit lighting which Ward called, “the best he’s ever seen.” The testing will clear the way for night refueling and formation testing later this year.

Meanwhile, F-35 program manager Tom Burbage says the company has come up with a fix for an issue with the fuel dump system that had cropped up in early models of the airplane. Burbage told Defense News that the modification will be installed in a test airplane early this year, and testing will begin in the second quarter on a permanent modification for all production airplanes.

The problem arose with a fuel dump system nozzle that was flush with the wing in order to maintain the stealth characteristics of the airplane. The design allowed dumped fuel to remain in contact with the aircraft, causing a fire hazard.

Burbage offered no details about the fix, other than to give the timeline for its testing.

FMI: www.f35.com

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