The US Air Force (USAF) is set to conduct cold weather testing on F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter in a bid to ensure that the fifth-generation multi-role fighter aircraft performs optimally in harsh weather conditions.
The aircraft arrived at Eielson Air Force Base (AFB), Alaska, US, on 12 October to undergo testing.
The test is aimed at certifying the Norwegian drag-chute and demonstrating 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 USAF stated.
USAF 354th Fighter Wing F-35 PIO mission support director captain Daniel Campbell said: “The F-35A is currently certified to land at an RCR of 12.
“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.”
The Eielson AFB will receive a total of two squadrons of F-35As, close to 3,500 airmen, contractors and their families.
The base will continue to prepare for the arrival of the F-35As in 2020 while still completing the primary mission of prepare, deploy and enable.
Construction on the base began early this year for projects concerning the F-35As arrival.
A contract for a propulsion maintenance hangar, additions to the maintenance field training detachment and several other projects have also been awarded to various companies.
Image: A USAF F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft lands on the runway at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, US. Photo: courtesy of USAF photo by airman first class Eric M Fisher.