Lockheed-Martin X-35A Joint Strike Fighter at Air Force Plant 42: October 24 and November 22, 2000


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First Flight, October 24, 2000

The Lockheed-Martin X-35A Joint Strike Fighter took off on its first flight from Air Force Plant 42 at Palmdale, California on the morning of October 24, 2000.

F-16C chase planes from Edwards AFB A pair of F-16C chase planes from the 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base took off and made a circuit of the pattern.

The X-35A has a very different sound from the F-16 chase planes.  Deeper and louder, with more vibrato.  There was no doubt when it ran up its engine for its take-off run. 

Lockheed-Martin X-35A Joint Strike Fighter The X-35A immediately banked to the left to head for Edwards Air Force Base.

For its initial flight tests, this X-35A was in the conventional take-off configuration selected by the Air Force. The second prototype, designated X-35C, will have the larger wings that the Navy version will need.

Lockheed-Martin X-35A Joint Strike Fighter An F-16C chase plane took up a position to the right and slightly behind the X-35A for the 21-minute hop to Edwards Air Force Base.

Unlike the Boeing X-32, the Lockheed-Martin X-35A attempted to retract its landing gear on its first flight. The nose gear doors did not close completely, and the landing gear was extended again.

The reason that these pictures seem soft, grainy, and blurred is that the X-35A never got very close to my shooting position. Even with a 400mm telephoto lens, the X-35A was very small in the viewfinder. These are blowups of a small part of each frame..

Read the Lockheed-Martin press release about the first flight of the X-35A


Twenty-sixth Flight November 22, 2000

The Lockheed-Martin X-35A Joint Strike Fighter returned to Palmdale on November 22, a little after three in the afternoon. It made a series of touch-and-go landings.

It will be equipped with a lift fan and vectored thrust nozzle for short take-off/vertical landing tests in support of the Marine Corps variant of the JSF next year. Its new configuration will be designated the X-35B.

While I was waiting for the X-35A, several other airplanes flew the approach to runway 25.

Marine Lockheed KC-130F 149800 Marine Lockheed KC-130F Hercules, 149800. Tail code QB indicates that it is from the Marine Aerial Refueling Transport Squadron VMGR 352, "The Raiders" based at MCAS Miramar.

Visit the MCAS Miramar website.

Air Force Boeing KC-135R 64-14833 Air Force Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker, 64-14833 of the Air Mobility Command. The KC-135R model has been re-engined with 22,000-pound thrust GE-SNECMA F108-CF-100 (military version of the CFM-56) high-bypass turbofan engines.

Visit Boeing's KC-135 Stratotanker product page.

Federation of American Scientists KC-135R page.Visit the Federation of American Scientists KC-135R page.

Air National Guard Lockheed C-130E 61-1792Air National Guard Lockheed C-130E Hercules, 61-1792. Tail code CI indicates that this Hercules flies with the 146th Airlift Wing based at Channel Islands Guard Base, across the runway from Pt. Mugu NAWS.

Refer to the Air Force C-130 Hercules Fact Sheet.

Air Force Lockheed U-2S 80-1067 Air Force Lockheed U-2S, 80-1067 carries a little red skunk on its tail. Ice has formed on areas of the wing that are cooled by cold-soaked fuel remaining in the bottom of the tanks. The U-2S model has been re-engined with 19,000-pound thrust General Electric F118-GE-101 turbofan engines.

Refer to the Air Force U-2R/U-2S Fact Sheet.

Maine Air National Guard  Boeing KC-135E 57-1471 Maine Air National Guard Boeing KC-135E Stratotanker, 57-1471 from the 101st Air Refueling Wing based at Bangor Air National Guard Base. The KC-135E model has been re-engined with 21,000-pound thrust Pratt & Whitney JT3D low-bypass turbofan engines salvaged from a retired Boeing 707. The vertical stabilizer was also transplanted from the 707 to provide the extra rudder control authority needed in the event of a failure of one of the higher thrust engines.

Visit the web page of the 101st ARW.

Refer to the Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker Fact Sheet.

Air Force Lockheed X-35A 301 Air Force Lockheed X-35A, 301 Joint Strike Fighter prototype with F-16B Falcon chase plane from the 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base. The 412th Test Wing is responsible for Air Force Development Test & Evaluation flight testing of aircraft systems and develops, operates, and maintains test facilities used to support flight testing.

Air Force Lockheed X-35A, 301 Lockheed X-35A, 301 Joint Strike Fighter prototype on approach to land at Palmdale

Air Force Lockheed X-35A 301 Air Force Lockheed X-35A, 301 Joint Strike Fighter prototype has a little black skunk on its tail. The blue tail stripe with white "x"s indicates that it is operated by the 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base.

Air Force Lockheed X-35A 301 Air Force Lockheed X-35A, 301 Joint Strike Fighter prototype.

Here is a 3-D view from the video that I shot. Just cross your eyes until the images line up.

Link to Lockheed-Martin's JSF Photo Gallery.

Read Lockheed-Martin's JSF press releases.

Visit the Air Force X-35 Program Page.


More Lockheed-Martin X-35/F-35 Joint Strike Fighter displays

Lockheed-Martin X-35/F-35 Joint Strike Fighter The Lockheed-Martin X-35 Joint Strike Fighter demonstrator took off on its first flight from Air Force Plant 42 at Palmdale, California on the morning of October 24, 2000. It returned to Palmdale on November 22. It was then equipped with a lift fan and vectored thrust nozzle for short take-off/vertical landing tests as the X-35B. The Lockheed-Martin X-35B vertical take-off prototype flew from Palmdale to Edwards AFB on July 3, 2001. The first Lockheed-Martin F-35A Lightning II, AA-1 completed air-start and noise tests at Edwards Air Force Base on Thursday October 23, 2008. It returned to Fort Worth on October 24.


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