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F-35 program completes static structural testing

Lockheed Martin's F-35 program has successfully completed static structural testing, achieving one of five milestones established by the Joint Program Office for 2011.

Static structural testing is used to verify the structural integrity of the airframe and to ensure specifications outlined in technical drawings used to produce the aircraft are accurate. Engineering teams at Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman and the Joint Program Office conducted the tests over the past two years.

In static structural testing, external loads designed to simulate the pressures of full envelope flight conditions are applied to hundreds of points on the airframe using an integrated system of load pads, hydraulic actuators, air pressurization mechanisms and reaction channels.

As proof that the airframe is capable of withstanding the pressures associated with the full flight envelope, engineers tested the structure to 115 percent of requirements and confirmed that no detrimental deformation of the structure occurred. In the final phase of static structural testing, the airframe was pushed to 150 percent of requirements to verify that there was no rupturing or structural failure.

"As one of our major program milestones, the completion of static structural testing demonstrates the significant progress that we're making on our joint mission to field this 5th Generation air combat capability," said Larry Lawson, executive vice president and general manager of the F-35 program. "These successful tests bring us one step closer to delivering the F-35 into the hands of the men and women of our U.S. and allied forces."

Bob Burt, director of F-35 Structures Development added, "This is a significant accomplishment for the F-35 program. Working together with our partners at BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman and the Joint Program Office, we successfully completed the static structural testing ahead of schedule."

Press release issued by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company on September 19, 2011


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Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

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