BAE Systems stealth jet undergoes final test flight

The F-35 Lightning 2 stealth fighter in flight
The F-35 Lightning 2 stealth fighter in flight

A Lancashire-born pilot has completed the final test flight of the new F-35 stealth fighter.

The fifth generation combat aircraft will be operated by air forces across the globe including the UK.

It is part built by BAE Systems in Lancashire and the programme is supported by workers from both Samlesbury and Warton.

One of the roles BAE play​s in the programme is delivering flight testing out in the United States​.

And the man who carried out the final test last week was BAE’s Peter “Wizzer” Wilson, who was born and raised in Whalley.

The final SDD Test flight was piloted by “Wizzer”on Wednesday, April 11.

The F-35C completed a mission to collect loads data while carrying external 2,000-pound GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munitions and AIM-9X Sidewinder heat-seeking missiles.

Vice Admiral 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.”

He added: “Congratulations to our F-35 Test Team and the broader F-35 Enterprise for delivering this new powerful and decisive capability to the warfighter.”

The final SDD flight occurred April 11, 2018 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Mayrland.

BAE Systems engineers build parts of the F-35 at a specially-built hi-tech facility at Samlesbury.

The parts are then shipped off to the USA for final assembly. F-35 flight testing will continues in support of phased capability improvements and modernization of the F-35 air system. The F-35 will be used on the UK’s two new aircraft carriers.