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F-35A Lightning II icy runway testing

The Lockheed Martin’s F-35A test crew is conducting testing on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, to certify the aircraft’s ability to taxi and land on an icy runway.

Crew members from Lockheed Martin check brake temperatures for a U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II multi-role fighter aircraft Nov. 4, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. During testing the brakes are heavily used, so crew member check their temperature between each run. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eric M. Fisher)

The Lockheed Martin’s F-35A test crew is conducting testing on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, to certify the aircraft’s ability to taxi and land on an icy runway.

A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II multi-role fighter aircraft taxis on the runway Nov. 4, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. This is one of several test F-35A aircraft, each aircraft is equipped with specialized instruments that are used to test all of the conditions the F-35A may encounter. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eric M. Fisher)

The Lockheed Martin’s F-35A test crew is conducting testing on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, to certify the aircraft’s ability to taxi and land on an icy runway.

Lockheed Martin crew members prepare a U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II multi-role fighter aircraft for testing Nov. 4, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Lockheed is testing the aircraft’s ability to taxi and land on icy runways to certify that it is capable of operating at a runway condition reading of 7. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eric M. Fisher)

The Lockheed Martin’s F-35A test crew is conducting testing on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, to certify the aircraft’s ability to taxi and land on an icy runway.

An F-35A Lightning II test pilot uses his radio to speak with crew members Nov. 4, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Once the low runway condition reading taxiing certification is complete, the test team will be able to conduct takeoff and landing tests at a low RCR. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eric M. Fisher)

The Lockheed Martin’s F-35A test crew is conducting testing on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, to certify the aircraft’s ability to taxi and land on an icy runway.

The Lockheed Martin F-35A test crew checks instruments on a U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II multirole fighter aircraft Nov. 8, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. This F-35A has specialized instruments, which allow it to test operating conditions in order to verify the F-35As ability to work in different environments. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eric M. Fisher)

The Lockheed Martin’s F-35A test crew is conducting testing on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, to certify the aircraft’s ability to taxi and land on an icy runway.

An F-35A Lightning II helmet sits on a foam pad Nov. 4, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The F-35A Lightning II is a unique aircraft because it does not have a head-up display inside the cockpit. To accommodate for this change the helmet is an ultra-lightweight, state of the art piece of technology, which displays information on the visor of the pilot’s helmet. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eric M. Fisher)

The Lockheed Martin’s F-35A test crew is conducting testing on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, to certify the aircraft’s ability to taxi and land on an icy runway.

A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II multi-role fighter aircraft taxis on the runway Nov. 4, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. During the testing, a portion of the runway is covered by a sheet of ice where the aircraft taxis at high speed before suddenly stopping to test its braking capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eric M. Fisher)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --

The Lockheed Martin’s F-35A test crew is conducting testing on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, to certify the aircraft’s ability to taxi and land on an icy runway. 


In order to do this the team sprays water onto a section of runway and after it freezes tests the runway condition reading (RCR). RCR is a measurement of the runways slickness. RCR 23 is considered a dry runway while RCR 5 is solid ice. The F-35A is currently certified to land at an RCR of 12, but the goal is to get the certification to land at RCR 7. 


While the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron and 354th Operations Support Squadron work to keep Eielson’s runway at an RCR 12 or better, it often slips below that due to extreme weather conditions. Once the two F-35A Lightning II squadrons arrive in 2020, the RCR 7 certification would clear the F-35A to use the runway throughout the Alaskan winter.