Lancashire pilot completes F-35 test

The F-35 combat aircraft program has completed its final developmental test flight of the System Development and Demonstration phase, with Lancashire-born pilot Peter ‘Wizzer’ Wilson in the hotseat.

Peter Wizzer Wilson F-35

The F-35 is the fifth generation combat aircraft developed and built in part by BAE Systems’ Lancashire operations. It will be operated by air forces across the globe including the UK, from BAE Systems sites in Samlesbury and Warton.

One of the development roles played by BAE Systems is delivering flight testing in the United States, supported by the organisation’s team based both in Samlesbury and the other side of the Atlantic, and including the services of test pilot, Peter ‘Wizzer’ Wilson, who was born and raised in Whalley.

Vice adm Mat Winter, F-35 program executive officer, said: “Completing F-35 SDD flight test is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication from the joint government and industry team.

“Since the first flight of AA-1 in 2006, the developmental flight test program has operated for more than 11 years mishap-free, conducting more than 9,200 sorties, accumulating over 17,000 flight hours, and executing more than 65,000 test points to verify the design, durability, software, sensors, weapons capability and performance for all three F-35 variants.”

The final SDD flight occurred at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, when Navy test aircraft CF-2 completed a mission to collect loads data while carrying external 2,000-pound GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) and AIM-9X Sidewinder heat-seeking missiles.

With stealth technology, advanced sensors, weapons capacity and range, the F-35 is the most lethal, survivable and connected fighter aircraft ever built. More than a fighter jet, the F-35’s ability to collect, analyze and share data is a powerful force multiplier that enhances all airborne, surface and ground-based assets in the battlespace and enables men and women in uniform to execute their mission and return home safe.

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