patuxent river, Md.,
RAF Squadron Leader Steve Long piloted BF-2, the second short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B, over
“Flying the F-35 was exactly like the simulators that I've been flying for over 18 months now, which gives you a lot of confidence in all the modeling and simulation work that has been done in all the other areas of the flight envelope,” Long said, adding that it was a “privilege” to fly the F-35. “What this aircraft really gives the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy is a quantum leap in airborne capability because of the sensor suite it carries. An F-35 pilot will have an unprecedented level of situational awareness about what’s going on in the airspace around him or her, and also on the battlefield or ocean below. Not only that, but the F-35 will plug into coalition battlefield networks and be able to pass that picture on to all other players in the network.”
With the capability to operate from a variety of ships or austere runways, the F-35B can deploy closer to shore or near front lines, shrinking distance and time to the target, increasing sortie rates and greatly reducing the need for support assets. The Lightning II's sensor suite is the most powerful and comprehensive of any fighter in history, and will combine with an unprecedented networking capability to give unparalleled situational awareness.
U.K. Joint Combat Aircraft Project Team Leader, Air Commodore Graham Farnell, has stated that the
“We look forward to the JSF flight test program meeting its targets in 2010, with today being one of many such occasions in the next year of JSF. The
Squadron Leader Long is the third active-duty service member to fly the F-35. (The jet also has been flown by U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps pilots.) Long has more than 2,200 hours of flight time and currently flies the F-18A-D with the U.S. Marines. He joined the RAF in 1995, and his operational experience has included more than 100 sorties over Kosovo and
The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations, advanced sustainment, and lower operational and support costs. Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 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 F136.