FORT WORTH, Texas, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II program has moved a step closer to the first on-board avionics testing.
Lockheed Martin announced it has completed its first mission systems-equipped F-35 Lightning II. Officials say the first completed mission systems-equipped F-35 short takeoff/vertical landing, or STOVL, variant is a milestone achievement moving the program one step closer to avionics testing.
The mission systems-equipped F-35 STOVL is expected to undergo functional fuel system checks ahead of a delivery of the aircraft to the flight line ahead of its first flight test expected to take place in the summer.
"Testing of this aircraft will represent the fourth tier of our avionics validation process, comprising ground-based laboratory testing, airborne lab testing of individual sensors on surrogate aircraft, airborne testing of the fully integrated mission systems package on the cooperative avionics test bed, and, finally, airborne testing of the integrated system on an actual F-35," Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager, said in a statement.