Boeing JSF X-32A goes supersonic
22 December 2000http://defence-data.com/storypic/x32aflight.jpg [not image]
The Boeing Joint Strike Fighter X-32A concept demonstrator aircraft broke the sound barrier yesterday, expanding the flight envelope and meeting another of the company's 'up- and-away' test objectives.
Lt. Col. Edward Cabrera, US Air Force lead test pilot assigned to the Boeing X-32A test programme, took the X-32A to 30,000 feet and exceeded Mach 1.0 in achieving supersonic flight. The flight was the aircraft's 49th since its 18 September first flight.
"The X-32A approached and exceeded Mach 1 effortlessly, demonstrating significant tactical potential,'' Cabrera said. "I'm very impressed with the fact that the plane continues to fly as predicted based on extensive modelling and simulation.''
Frank Statkus, Boeing vice president and JSF general manager, said the milestone puts an exclamation point on what has been an extremely productive flight-test programme to date. "As planned, we completed the customer-required test objectives before moving on to our own conventional-takeoff-and-landing (CTOL) objectives, including supersonic flight,'' Statkus said. "We're extremely proud of the fact that we have accomplished 100 percent of the government-defined carrier variant (CV) test objectives as well as supersonic flight before the end of the year.
"It's important to note that we've done all this with one aircraft and without any modifications. That underscores the commonality of our design, one of the customer's primary objectives in this phase of the program.''
The X-32A is more than halfway through the five-month flight-test program, which includes approximately 60 flights totalling about 75 hours to validate the JSF's predicted flying characteristics. The flights are split approximately 50-50 between CV and CTOL tests.
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