Boeing X-32A begins simulated carrier-landing tests

11/17/00 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The Boeing Joint Strike Fighter X-32A concept demonstrator aircraft began field carrier-landing practice tests Nov. 15 to demonstrate flying and handling qualities during low-speed aircraft carrier approach.

Navy Cmdr. Phillip Yates, the U.S. government's lead test pilot for the Boeing JSF program, and Boeing lead test pilot Fred Knox are demonstrating simulated carrier landings using a Frensel lens on the ground to provide pilot cues during their approaches to a simulated carrier deck outlined on a runway here.

"The X-32A demonstrated excellent low-speed flying qualities in the carrier mode configuration," Yates said. "Flight path control was precise all the way to touch down - this aircraft continues to fly as simulations predicted it would."

Including the 30-minute Nov. 15 flight, Boeing now has completed 18 flights and 24 percent of the program's overall flight-test objectives, as well as 54 percent of its carrier variant, or CV, approach objectives.

"These successful CV tests are significant because the data we're gathering clearly demonstrates we are meeting objectives early in the flight-test program," said Katy Fleming, Boeing JSF system test director.

Also significant is the fact Boeing is demonstrating commonality with one aircraft. The X-32A is demonstrating both CV and conventional landing and takeoff handling qualities without any modifications or changes to the aircraft.

Another Boeing JSF concept demonstrator, the X-32B, will demonstrate short takeoff and vertical landing capabilities for the U.S. Marine Corps and the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.

During flight tests at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md, the two JSF Boeing aircraft, along with Lockheed Martin's concept demonstrators, the X-35A and X-35B, must successfully demonstrate three objectives originally outlined at the beginning of the testing phase in 1996: