The static test programme broke all records for the speed of testing having applied more than 150 different loading configurations in just over nine months.
Having proven the strength of the aircraft is now beginning the 4500 mile journey back to the US after almost three and a half years in the structural test facility at Brough.
Static testing the F-35 means that the aircraft has been ‘flown’ to its limits with loads applied to it replicating the effect of high gravitational forces far beyond any conditions likely to be flown in actual flight. This is done with the airframe nesting in a multi-million pound rig kitted out with over 4000 strain gauges, 170 actuators and over 50 miles of wiring at our Brough site in Yorkshire. Brough is home to a world leading facility for putting aircraft through their paces to ensure they are strong enough and resilient enough to perform in the harshest environments in the world.
Tim Bramhall runs the F-35 structural test programme at Brough said “We certainly don’t give the aircraft an easy ride here. We push it to its limits so that we can be confident that each of the 3000+ aircraft that have been ordered will perform safely and effectively. The real challenge is keeping aircraft weight at a minimum whilst maintaining the strength of the plane within certain specified limits”
With this set of tests complete Tim added “We still have another F-35 CTOL airframe in the facility undergoing fatigue testing along with the remaining horizontal and vertical tails from the Carrier variant. Work on those continues on schedule and are shining examples of the long term future the structural test facility has ahead.”
About the F-35 Programme
Over 3,000 F-35 Lightning II aircraft stand to be produced, based on current requirements from the US and other international partners, with planned rates of production set to reach 200 per year (or one a day) by 2015.