A US Air Force F-35 fighter jet will be undergoing cold weather testing to ensure the fifth generation multi-role fighter aircraft performs optimally in harsh weather conditions at the Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, according to the air force press release.
The F-35A Lightning II that arrived on October 13 was the first to land at the base near Fairbanks. The F-35A Lightning II will be undergoing testing for two main purposes: the airplane's ability to land on icy runways and a drag-chute modification of the plane that's been requested by the Royal Norwegian Air Force, an F-35 program partner, the statement says.
“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”.
In April 2016, it was officially announced the base was scheduled to receive two squadrons of F-35As as well as approximately 3,500 Airmen, contractors and their families. Construction began in early 2017 for projects regarding the F-35As arrival.
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, addition for the maintenance field training detachment, and several other projects have been awarded to various companies.