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F-35A tests drag chute in Alaska

Photo: A USAF F-35A arrives on the flight line at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, on October 12. USAF/Airman 1st Class Isaac Johnson


A US Air Force F-35A has arrived at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska to test the drag chute requested by Norway for its Lightning IIs. The jet landed at Eielson on October 12.

As well as certifying the Norwegian drag chute, the Alaska deployment is intended to demonstrate that the entire fleet of F-35As are capable of landing at a runway condition reading (RCR) of 7.

The RCR scale is based on how wet and dry each runway is. A RCR 23 is considered a dry runway while an RCR 5 is compared to landing on ice.

“The F-35A is currently certified to land at an RCR of 12,” said Capt Daniel Campbell, the 354th Fighter Wing F-35 PIO director of mission support. “This test is important to the base because it will help certify the F-35A to operate at an RCR of 7. The 354th Civil Engineer Squadron and 354th Operations Support Squadron try to keep our runway at an RCR of 12 or better during the harsh winters, but often are below that. We need the lower RCR certification to ensure the F-35A can operate throughout our winters.”

Eielson AFB is scheduled to receive two F-35A squadrons from 2020.

Norway plans to acquire 52 F-35As. Two were ordered under Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) lot 7 (FY2013), two under LRIP-8 (FY2014); six under LRIP-9 (FY2015) and six under LRIP 10 (FY2016).

The first F-35A for the Royal Norwegian Air Force was formally unveiled and handed over at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Fort Worth, Texas, on September 22, 2015. The first two aircraft were delivered to Luke AFB, Arizona, for training on 10th November 2015. The third arrived at Luke on an unknown date in summer 2016, followed by the fourth on July 27, 2016 and the fifth on May 25 this year.

USAF Col David Mineau, the 354th Fighter Wing commander, sits in the cockpit of an F-35A while Norwegian Major ‘Taz’ Amdal, Project Test Pilot for the F-35 drag chute programme, tells him about controls. USAF/Airman 1st Class Isaac Johnson


A USAF F-35A aircraft lands on the flight line at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska on October 12. USAF/Airman 1st Class Isaac Johnson

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