The F-35B Lightning II is the STOVL variant of the F-35, which is being purchased by the UK and will operate from the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. In 2015, the F-35 Integrated Test Force at NAS Patuxent River, USA conducted the first ski jump launches of the F-35B. These launches, which used a land based ramp, formed part of the preparation for forthcoming trials on the UK’s new ski jump equipped ships. The primary focus of the testing was to assess the aircraft’s flying qualities, performance and undercarriage response during a ramp assisted take off.
This presentation to the Royal Aeronautical Society Flight Test Group will describe the first phase of F-35B ski jump testing, which was conducted by the joint UK/US team at Patuxent River. It will discuss the preparation for the first F-35B ski jump launch, the conduct of the testing itself, and give an overview of the initial test results. Among the lessons learned which will be discussed are the importance of simulation for test planning and mission rehearsal, but also why, even with excellent modelling capability, you shouldn’t put ultimate faith in the predictions.
All RAeS Lectures are free to attend for both members and non-members.
Gordon Stewart is a Flight Test Engineer working for QinetiQ at MOD Boscombe Down. He has spent much of the last 20 years involved in the flying qualities testing of STOVL aircraft, including Harrier, Sea Harrier and F-35B. He has also worked as a Flight Test Engineer on Fast Jet Test Squadron, and as a tutor at the Empire Test Pilots’ School.
From 2012 to 2016, Gordon worked as a Flying Qualities Engineer at the F-35 Integrated Test Force on behalf of the UK MOD. He was the lead Flying Qualities engineer for the planning and execution of the initial phase of F-35 ski jump testing. Gordon has also conducted F-35B ship trials aboard USS Wasp and USS America, and he has been in the control room for 240 F-35 test missions. Gordon is a graduate of No.25 Flight Test Engineer course at the Empire Test Pilots’ School, and he holds Masters Degrees in Aeronautical Engineering and in Flight Dynamics.
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