F-35 (AF-7) flies for 50 minutes and initiates stealth version 4

WASHINGTON, US — The development of the American stealth fighter of the fifth generation F-35 Lightning II is entering a new phase. At the beginning of January, a test flight of the F-35 with tail number AF-7 was carried out. The latest powerful computing software has been integrated onboard the fighter, which will be the heart of the stealth version 4 of the F-35, better known as Block 4.

US company Lockheed Martin is on an accelerated timeline to quickly sign a deal with Germany to acquire the F-35 Lightning II, wrote Gareth Jennings in Twitter
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The AF-7 is in the inventory of the 461st Flight Test Squadron. A test fighter that flew for nearly 50 minutes and reached an altitude of 35,000 feet with the latest electronics on board. The fighter jet took off from Edwards Air Force Base [AFB], California, and crossed the skies over the Mojave Desert.

The test flight was intended to verify two things: a functional flight check of the F-35 for conducting test flights in the future and its operation with the first settings of Technology Refresh 3 [TR-3] – the computing software. This flight, which took place on January 6, marks the beginning of the development of Block 4 of the F-35.


The TR-3 was developed to meet the new requirements of the US Air Force. This software will have to calculate and support the new weapons of Block 4. They will not only be increased in quantity but also much more precise than the current ones. TR-3 will provide the necessary “brain” power to the latest US electronic warfare systems. And last but not least, TR-3 will ensure the provision of more powerful data fusion and increased interoperability between platforms.

The TR-3 will actually continue to make the F-35 Block 4 more of a flying supercomputer than a direct combat fighter. The software will give F-35 operators the advantage to more quickly, precisely, and accurately identify and intercept enemy targets, ground infrastructure, and military facilities, as well as counter larger cyber attacks.

The TR-3 will completely change the next-generation F-35. Starting every feature of the aircraft will depend on this software. “Refresh 3 technology modernizes the computing core of the F-35 aircraft,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Campbell, commander of the 461st Airlift Wing and director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force.

TR-3 in 2023

According to some sources, the TR-3 should begin to be integrated into the US F-35 and F-35 operators around the world by the end of 2023. According to the lieutenant colonel, the January 6 flight is the first in a series of tests.

The F-35 is a fifth-generation weapon system. Developed in the middle of the new millennium, nearly 900 aircraft have already been built. The F-35 is the backbone of the US Air Force and 16 other operators around the world. It is not an attack or attack fighter, but rather a stealth aircraft to provide air superiority, by effect and striking beyond visual range. The idea of the whole program is to keep the expensive fifth-generation weapon safe during actual combat but to have a more lethal effect from a distance than in direct aerial combat.

F-35 (AF-7) flies for 50 minutes and initiates stealth version 4
Photo credit: ViperWing

F-35 operators

In 2022, Lockheed Martin delivered 141 F-35 aircraft to the US and its partners. According to the plan, 148 aircraft were to be delivered in 2022, but force majeure prevented the commitments made.

A total of 17 countries participate in the F-35 program. Canada has already announced that it is ready to deliver 88 F-35As to its Air Force. Finland, Germany, and Switzerland are the last countries that already last year announced their intentions to acquire the F-35. It is said that the US will allow the supply of F-35s to Romania and Greece if these two countries request to have F-35s.


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