F-35A to Begin Weapons Testing

Lockheed Martin said April 20 that the seventh F-35 flight test aircraft, an F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant dubbed AF-2, had that day flown for the first time and would be used to validate the CTOL weapons suite. Company test pilot Jeff Knowles took off in AF-2 around 6 p.m. CDT from NAS Fort Worth JRB, Tex., for a one-hour flight. James Sandstrom, Lockheed’s F-35A program manager, called the first flight “a significant achievement for the F-35 program.” AF-2 is the first F-35 to have the internal GAU-22/A 25-mm gun system, made by General Dynamics, will demonstrate internal and external weapons capability throughout the required flight envelope, according to the company release.