Norway Begins F-35 Brake Chute Tests
(Source: Norwegian Ministry of Defence; issued April 17, 2017)
(Issued in Norwegian; unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
The original F-35 design did not include a brake chute, and Norway is paying for its development because its aircraft mostly operate on icy runways. Note that is it fixed to the rear upper fuselage, a rather unconventional position. (Norway MoD image)
Today testing begins of its specially developed brake screen for the F-35. It shall ensure that the Norwegian fighter aircraft lands safely in bad weather.

In Norway, we operate under more extreme winter conditions than most other countries in the world. This involves low temperatures, strong winds, poor visibility and slippery runways.

“Being able to operate fighter aircraft under varying weather conditions, is critical for the operational capability,” said State Secretary Øystein Bø in the Defense Ministry.

Important for us

The testing of the drag parachute on F-35 started on Easter Sunday, and is divided into two main phases. In the first stage tests the pilot will evaluate how F-35 behaves in the air with a fitted drag chute, and how the chute acts on dry and wet runways. In the second phase, the pilot will test the drag chute on an icy runway. All testing will be conducted with the aircraft AF-2, which is especially instrumented test aircraft for just this purpose.

“Integration of the brake chute on Norwegian fighter aircraft is important to us. We rely on the F-35 to operate in extreme winter conditions, just like the F-16 can. That's why we put so much effort into getting a specially-developed brake chute on our F-35,” said State Secretary Bo.

Demanding weather conditions

After the first F-35 fighter aircraft lands on Norwegian soil in November 2017, they will have be fitted with an integrated brake chute, which is necessary to operate fighter aircraft in bad weather.

What happens when you press the red "drag chute" button in the cockpit of an F-35? Read interview with Norwegian test pilot here. (In Norwegian—Ed.)

Until now, testing of the drag chute has only occurred in simulators. Testing in 2017 will verify that the basic capacity work for real. Then, the test regime will be expanded by certifying the brake chute under increasingly demanding conditions. The first part of the testing will take place at Edwards Air Force Base in California, while the other takes place at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. The testing of the brake chute will continue until spring 2018.

Norway is cooperating with the Netherlands for the development of the F-35 drag chute, and sharing part of the development and integration costs. If other countries want to acquire a brake chute for their aircraft, it will also be possible for them to do so.

What is a brake chute (or drag chute) ?

-- A brake chute is a parachute that is used to reduce the speed of an aircraft after it lands.
-- The Norwegian brake chute concept is based on two modifications.
-- One part is modification of the aircraft (commonly referred to as Group A) that reinforces the parts of the fuselage which absorbs the enormous forces and attaching the brake chute to the aircraft. It is activated from the cockpit.
-- The second part is the brake chute and its housing, which is mounted on the top rear fuselage of the aircraft, between the two tail surfaces (often referred to as Group B).

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