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Cold weather testing in Alaska for the F-35A Lightning

An F-35A Lightning II landed at Eielson AFB, southeast of Fairbanks, Alaska, on October 12, to take part in cold weather testing to ensure the fifth-generation multi-role fighter aircraft performs optimally in harsh weather conditions.

The test is intended to certify the Norwegian drag chute and demonstrate that the entire fleet of F-35As are capable of landing at a runway condition reading (RCR) of 7 (a runway classified as RCR 23 is considered a dry runway, while an RCR 5 is closer 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.”

According to Kevin Blanchard, the 354th FW F-35 PIO director, in addition to the F-35 flight simulator that was started in March 2017, a contract for a propulsion maintenance hangar, additions to the maintenance field training detachment, and several other projects has been awarded to various companies.

Eielson continues to prepare for the arrival of the F-35As in 2020 while still completing its primary mission of ‘prepare, deploy and enable’.

October 19, 2017


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