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Mon, Aug 13, 2012

F-35 Testing Aircraft Comes Full Circle

Aircraft Used In Static Test Program Returned To LMC In Fort Worth

After successfully completing the static test program on the F-35 (known as AG-1) BAE systems says it has returned the aircraft back to Lockheed Martin. BAE says the static test program broke all records for the speed of testing, having applied more than 150 different loading configurations in just over nine months. Now, after proving the strength of the aircraft, it is beginning the 4500 mile journey back to the U.S. after almost three and a half years in the structural test facility at Brough in the UK.

Static testing the F-35 means that the aircraft has been ‘flown’ to its limits with loads applied to it replicating the effect of high gravitational forces far beyond any conditions likely to be flown in actual flight.  This is done with the airframe nesting in a multi-million pound rig fitted with over 4000 strain gauges, 170 actuators and over 50 miles of wiring at our Brough site in Yorkshire. Brough is home to a facility well known for putting aircraft through their paces to ensure they are strong enough and resilient enough to perform in the harshest environments in the world.
 
“We certainly don’t give the aircraft an easy ride here," said Tim Bramhall, F-35 structural test program manager at Brough. "We push it to its limits so that we can be confident that each of the 3000+ aircraft that have been ordered will perform safely and effectively. The real challenge is keeping aircraft weight at a minimum while maintaining the strength of the plane within certain specified limits”   
 
“We still have another F-35 CTOL airframe in the facility undergoing fatigue testing along with the remaining "horizontal and vertical tails from the Carrier variant," Bramhall continued. Work on those continues on schedule and are shining examples of the long term future the structural test facility has ahead.”

FMI: www.baesystems.com

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