U.S. Air Force Maj. Jonathan "Spades" Gilbert takes off from Eielson AFB, Alaska. Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin
The U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin are testing to see how the F-35 Lightning II holds up in extreme weather conditions.
The manufacturer said Monday an F-35 demonstrated handling qualities during icy runway ground testing at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. The testing is part of the certification process for the Norwegian drag chute, which Lockheed Martin said would continue over the next several weeks. Maj. Eskil Amdal, test pilot with the Royal Norwegian Air Force, is participating alongside Maj. Jonathan “Spades” Gilbert, a U.S. Air Force F-35 test pilot.
Lockheed Martin said this initial testing is the first of two phases in extreme weather testing. The second phase of testing involves deploying the Norwegian drag chute during landing operations and is planned for first quarter 2018 at Eielson.
The F-35A drag chute is designed to be installed on all of Norway’s F-35As and is form fitted to ensure it maintains stealth characteristics while flying, Lockheed Martin said. Norway and Lockheed Martin are working with the Netherlands, who is sharing in the development of this critical capability. The drag chute has already performed initial wet and dry runway deployment testing at Edwards Air Force Base in California earlier this year.