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First F-35 STOVL Aircraft Powers-up for Success


Dubai - Electrical power has been applied to the first Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant of the F-35 Lightning II for the first time, initiating a series of ground tests that will lead to the inaugural flight of the STOVL aircraft next spring.

BAE Systems is a key partner on the F-35 programme and brings military aircraft expertise that is critical to the F-35 Lightning II airframe and systems, including unique STOVL expertise from the Harrier programme.

BAE System’s employees from Warton and Samlesbury, who are currently based at programme partner Lockheed Martin’s plant in Ft Worth, Texas, represented the company at a special ceremony to mark the significant milestone.

‘Power-on’ is an incremental process of testing the aircraft’s circuits, electronic components and wiring and it was achieved on schedule.

Tom Fillingham, Managing Director - F-35 Lightning II at BAE Systems said: “Successful ‘power-on’ is a critical milestone in the F-35 programme and it demonstrates that the integration of this unique aircraft is progressing to plan. For the BAE Systems team is it particularly satisfying to see the STOVL variant making such great progress – we are very proud of the STOVL heritage we bring to the F-35 programme from the design, production and in-service support of the Harrier aircraft.”
Maj. Gen. C.R. Davis, F-35 program executive officer, was also present at the event and commented: “Power-on is one of the major milestones in the life of the STOVL aircraft and we have eagerly anticipated it for some time. The F-35 has the most complex electrical system of any fighter to date. We had great success with the first jet we flew, but that jet taught us some very important lessons about its electrical system and those lessons have been incorporated into the jet we powered up today. Congratulations to the team and on to first flight.”
The STOVL variant of F-35 is being developed to meet the performance requirements of the U.S. Marine Corps and the UK Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. It will be the world’s first stealthy fighter with supersonic and STOVL capability.

The three variants of the F-35 Lightning II are being developed to meet the different performance requirements of the US and UK armed forces. The Carrier Variant (CV) is being designed for the US Navy and must cope with the demands of the catapult launches and arrested landings on the large US aircraft carriers. The Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) variant will meet the needs of the US Air Force. Finally the Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant is being developed to meet the operational requirements of the US Marine Corp and the UK.

BAE Systems is responsible for the design and delivery of the aft fuselage and empennage (tails and fins) for each F-35 variant, as well as key areas of the vehicle and weapon systems, in particular the fuel system, crew escape, life support system and prognostics health management integration. The Company also has significant work share in autonomic logistics, primarily on the support system side, and is involved in the Integrated Test Force, including the systems flight test and mission systems.


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