The F-35 Integrated Test Force completed the first phase of the First-of-Class Flight Trials aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth on October 16.
The first of three phases of F-35 trials was dubbed developmental testing (DT-1). There are two further phases to follow.
Capt Jerry Kyd, the ship’s commanding officer, said: ‘I could not be more pleased with the team spirit and dynamism from all that has delivered a volume of quality data which has put us well ahead of where we expected to be at this stage. I am very grateful to all the ITF folk who have been focused, professional, and willing to go the extra mile – more to come!’
Cdr Nathan Gray, Sqn Ldr Andy Edgell and two other ITF test pilots USMC Maj Michael Lippert and BAE Systems’ Peter Wilson flew the initial test period and became qualified to land on the ship. Wilson flew the first-ever shipborne rolling vertical landing (SRVL) of an F-35B on October 13.
Cdr James Blackmore, Commander Air ‘Wings’ on board Queen Elizabeth said: ‘This is the first step in proving this capability, and another milestone in aviation for the Royal Navy. It’s fantastic to have achieved this — it was textbook and just what we expected.’
Sqn Ldr Andy Edgell the lead test pilot for the flying trials program, added: ‘It could have gone any better and it was obvious to anyone watching that we were watching a moment in history being made for Royal Navy aviation. Now we will focus on putting all four of our test pilots here through the same process to achieve the widest breadth of data possible on the landings.’
The initial two FOCFT phases will demonstrate numerous maneuvers and deck operations is being conducted consecutively over a period of 11 weeks and will conclude in December. Over 200 test points will be evaluated during varied weather and sea conditions and will support development of the F-35B operating envelopes. A third FOCFT phase, scheduled for September 2019, followed by operational testing.