The airframe of the conventional take-off and landing variant of the F-35 Lightning II aircraft has now been subjected to eight thousand hours, or one complete lifetime of durability testing in a purpose built structural test rig at BAE Systems’ military aircraft site in Brough, Yorkshire.
The 350 tonne structural test rig at Brough was purposely built to ‘fly’ the F-35 through a series of flight scenarios. Over 20 miles of wiring, 2,500 strain gauges and 160 loading actuators subjected the aircraft to a range of loads that it would typically encounter in actual flight.
BAE Systems is also contracted for the static and fatigue testing for the horizontal tail of F-35 and fatigue testing on the aircraft’s vertical tail
Around 15% of F-35 Lightning II work is carried out in the UK with over 130 British companies contributing to the supply chain. The programme is worth over £1 billion to UK industry each year and will support around 25,000 British jobs over the next 25 years.