The U.S. Navy has concluded weapon load tests for Lockheed Martin-built F-35B onboard the USS America amphibious assault ship as part of the aircraft’s third developmental test phase.
The Patuxent River Integrated Test Force assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 conducted shipboard launch-and-recovery expansion tests to assess the F-35B’s flying qualities at various aircraft weights, the Navy said Monday.
The team also performed ordnance separation and live-fire tests as well as evaluation of the takeoff and landing worst-case scenarios and endpoints.
“We’re here to augment the existing weight center of gravity effects of the aircraft to expand the fleet envelope wind over deck, and different lateral symmetry and asymmetry configurations,” said Gabriella Spehn, an F-35 weapons engineer at the Pax River ITF.
“The only way to increase the endpoints is to test on board a ship for sink rates and high sea states, which is the next phase of testing after land-based testing is complete,” Spehn added.
Pilots performed the tests under various environmental conditions to assess the aircraft’s limitations and capabilities, according to the Navy.
Before embarking on USS America, the team conducted load tests on land after the warship’s Weapons Department assembled 72 laser-guided Guide Bomb Units 12 and 40 satellite-guided GBU-32s.