On 15 Apr 16, the RAF deployed a Voyager aircraft to US Naval Air Station Patuxent River in support of Lightning II (F-35B) Air to Air Refuelling (AAR) trials.
Approximately 20 flights are scheduled during the test period, of which 5 have been successfully completed to date, with the final flight scheduled during mid-June.
The trials will include a number of AAR flights to assess both the Wing pods and the Fuselage Refuelling Unit (central refuelling point). The flight tests will initially be conducted as ‘dry contacts’ before moving into ‘fuel passing’ at various points throughout the flight envelope.
The test flights will allow the collection of a significant amount of data which will be analysed by the Design Organisations of both the Voyager and Lightning II aircraft, and will culminate in the certification of both aircraft, which is scheduled to be delivered by the end of the year. This flight clearance will support Lightning II Initial Operating Capability and the re-location of 617 Squadron to RAF Marham during 2018.
The UK has 19 personnel embedded within the F-35 Development Test Programme at Patuxent River, many of whom are set to embark on a US Marine Corps amphibious vessel later this year for the third and final set of Development Test Sea Trials for the F-35B, ahead of the UK’s own F-35B Ship Integration trials which are scheduled to take place on board HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2018.
The F-35 will make its UK debut this summer at the Royal International Air Tattoo and Farnborough International Air Show.
Source / Author:RAF
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