BROUGH, England, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- BAE Systems will soon begin its third phase of durability testing on airframes for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.
The testing is performed to verify the airframes' ability to handle a variety of flight conditions. Each phase of testing lasts a total of 8,000 hours, equal to an airframe's lifetime.
The company has already completed testing the airframes for two lifetimes, or 16,000 hours, on the Conventional Take-Off and Landing variant of the airframe.
"Reaching two complete lifetimes of testing is an important milestone for our structural test facility at Brough, and demonstrates the proven endurance of the F-35 airframe," BAE Systems Structural and Dynamic Test operations manager Andy Prendergast said in a statement. "We will further qualify this by starting a third lifetime of testing."
The F-35 program led by prime contractor Lockheed Martin that aims to provide a next-generation fighter jet to participating armed forces. Defense officials in the United States plan to use the F-35 to replace aging F/A-18, F-16, and A-10 aircraft, though delays in testing and safety concerns have stalled procurement.
BAE Systems supports the F-35 program by designing and delivering crew escape, life support, and fuel systems. The company also participates in weapons integration in the United Kingdom as well as flight test and structural testing.