The U.S. Air Force will conduct a series of tests to evaluate if the conventional takeoff-and-landing variant of Lockheed Martin-built F-35 aircraft can withstand harsh weather conditions in Alaska.
The service branch said Friday it aims to demonstrate the F35A‘s capacity to land at a runway condition reading scale of 7 and validate a Norwegian drag-chute as part of cold weather tests at Eielson AF Base.
“The 354th Civil Engineer Squadron and 354th Operations Support Squadron try to keep our runway at an RCR of 12 or better during the harsh winters, but often are below that,” said Capt. Daniel Campbell, director of mission support for the 354th Fighter Wing F-35 Program Integration Office.
“We need the lower RCR certification to ensure the F-35A can operate throughout our winters,” Campbell added.
The Air Force awarded contracts to multiple companies to support projects such as construction of a propulsion maintenance hangar and maintenance field training detachment facilities in preparation for the arrival of F-35A units at Eielson.
A pair of F-35As along with nearly 3,500 airmen, contractor personnel and their families are scheduled to arrive at the military base by 2020.