Tri-Service

British Pilot Behind First Ski Jump For F-35B Lightning II

The F-35B Lightning II has successfully completed its first ski jump test at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in the US state of Maryland....

The F-35B Lightning II has successfully completed its first ski jump test at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in the US state of Maryland.
 
Piloted by British test pilot Pete 'Wizzer' Wilson it marks the start of an initial testing phase.
 
Flying on behalf of BAE Systems Pete Wilson said: "It's always exciting when you get to do something in aviation for the first time. We spend literally years planning these 'firsts', with hundreds of hours in the simulator as the event gets close.
 
"But even with all the preparation the test team remains focussed on the potential that something unexpected might happen. As is usually the case, the jet performed as expected and it was a real pleasure."
 
The ramp used was built in England however, at a cost of £2 million, by Stockport-based defence engineering company WFEL - who normally specialise in building rapidly deployable bridging systems.
 
Ski-jump ramps work by providing an aircraft with an upward flight path meaning the aircraft can take off from a shorter runway with a potentially heavier payload.
 
 
The development complements the sea trials the Joint Strike Fighter has been undergoing with the US Marine Corps, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force onboard USS Wasp.
 
This latest combat aircraft, with an in-service date of December 2018 for the UK, will put the British Armed Forces at the forefront of fighter technology.
 
When they start flying from the new Queen Elizabeth Carriers in 2020 it will restore the Fleet Air Arm's ability to conduct fixed-wing, front-line operations. 
 
That was lost in 2010 with the controversial retirement of the Harrier GR9's.
 
 
The MoD has so far ordered 48 F-35B's with four delivered and already undergoing testing. 
 
Among those tests is the dropping of UK armament's including the Paveway IV laser-guided bomb - watch below:
 

F-35B Lightning II (JSF) - The Stats 
 
  • Engines: Pratt & Whitney F-135-600
  • Thrust: 40,000lbs
  • Max speed: 1.6Mach
  • Max altitude: 50,000ft
  • Aircrew: 1
  • Armament: Paveway IV, AMRAAM, ASRAAM