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F-35 Flies Against F-16 In Basic Fighter Maneuvers

Aviation Week // April 02, 2015

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been flown in air-to-air combat maneuvers against F-16s for the first time and, based on the results of these and earlier flight-envelope evaluations, test pilots say the aircraft can be cleared for greater agility as a growth option.

Although the F-35 is designed primarily for attack rather than air combat, U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin test pilots say the availability of potential margin for additional maneuverability is a testament to the aircraft’s recently proven overall handling qualities and basic flying performance. “The door is open to provide a little more maneuverability,” says Lockheed Martin F-35 site lead test pilot David “Doc” Nelson.

The operational maneuvers were flown by Nelson in AF-2, the primary Flight Sciences loads and flutter evaluation aircraft, and one of nine F-35s used by the Edwards AFB-based 412th Test Wing for developmental testing (DT). The F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards has six F-35As, two F-35Bs and a single F-35C dedicated to DT work, as well as a further set of aircraft allotted to the Joint Operational Test Team. Work is underway as part of efforts to clear the final system development and demonstration (SDD) maneuvering envelopes on the way to initial operational capability (IOC). The U.S. Marine Corps F-35B IOC is targeted for later this year, the Air Force’s F-35A in 2016, and the U.S. Navy’s F-35C  in 2019.

Read the entire article from Aviation Week.