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F-35 Flies For The First Time With Technology Refresh 3 Upgrades




The aircraft passed the Functional Test Flight ahead of an extensive flight test campaign, paving the way for the Block 4 upgrade.
On Jan. 6, 2023, the 461st Flight Test Squadron conducted the first flight of an F-35 in the Technology Refresh 3 (TR-3) configuration at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The first aircraft chosen to receive the TR-3 upgrades is the first production-model F-35 delivered to the Air Force, better known as AF-7, which is also specially instrumented for developmental flight testing.

Maj. Ryan “BOLO” Luersen, a U.S. Air Force experimental test pilot, executed a functional check flight (FCF) profile to verify aircraft airworthiness and system stability after the upgrades. The 50-minute flight, which took the jet to 35,000 feet at speeds just shy of the speed of sound above the Mojave Desert, marked the start of an extensive flight test campaign. The Air Force says that developmental and operational test flights will continue through 2023 to ensure safety and prove warfighting capabilities.

“This is a significant achievement for the F-35 program,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Mike Schmidt, program executive officer, F-35 Joint Program Office. “TR-3 is the F-35’s critical computer processing electronics upgrade that will continue to provide all our pilots with the capability they need to be successful against any adversary. There is still a lot of work to do and I am confident that our industry partners and government team will get the job done.”