BF-4, the first F-35 strike fighter test aircraft carrying all of the sensors that combat-ready F-35s will host, made its maiden flight on Wednesday, Lockheed Martin announced. Eric Branyan, Lockheed’s F-35 deputy program manager, said the 55-minute flight from the company’s F-35 assembly facility in Fort Worth, Tex., initiated “a level of avionics capability that no fighter has ever achieved.” During the flight, F-35 Test Pilot David Nelson checked the operation of these systems, which include an active electronically scanned array radar, electro-optical targeting system, EO distributed aperture system, electronic warfare system, helmet-mounted display system, and integrated communication, navigation, and identification suite. BF-4, which is scheduled to fly to NAS Patuxent River, Md., for more expansive flight testing with the sensors, is a Marine Corps’s F-35B short-takeoff variant. The Air Force’s F-35A version will have these same sensors as will the Navy’s F-35C.
The Department of the Air Force does not consistently or systematically ask Airmen or Guardians how dormitory conditions affect their quality of life and readiness, which reduces the department’s ability to identify and prioritize improvement efforts, according to a Government Accountability Office study published Sept. 19.