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Edwards F-35 testers nominated for prestigious aviation award

An F-35A Lightning II from the 461st Flight Test Squadron soars over Edwards Air Force Base Sept. 15, 2017. The F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards is one of nine nominees for the National Aeronautic Association’s Collier’s Trophy. (Courtesy photo by Chad Bellay/Lockheed Martin)

An F-35A Lightning II from the 461st Flight Test Squadron soars over Edwards Air Force Base Sept. 15, 2017. The F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards is one of nine nominees for the National Aeronautic Association’s Collier’s Trophy. (Courtesy photo by Chad Bellay/Lockheed Martin)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

The National Aeronautic Association named the F-35 Integrated Test Force here as one of nine organizations nominated for the 2017 Robert J. Collier Trophy. The NAA announced all nominees in a press release Feb. 5.

The trophy is awarded every year for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year, according to the NAA website.

The F-35 ITF and 461st Flight Test Squadron conducts developmental test and evaluation of all three variants of the fifth-generation F-35. The organization carries out the system development and demonstration phase of the Defense Department’s F-35 Program, which is nearing its completion following weapons delivery accuracy tests in December.

Lt. Col. Tucker Hamilton, 461st FLTS commander and F-35 ITF director, said the F-35 Joint Program Office nominated the ITF for the award. The nomination package commended the ITF’s accomplishments in 2017, which included completing test requirements ahead of schedule while carrying out complex test missions with “the hardest to prove capability, the most advanced threat emulation and the most integrated scenarios.”

“The Edwards ITF did not just conduct the same-old flight test, they demonstrated superb excellence, tackling unique challenges, and performing at a sustained level simply never seen before in any Department of Defense flight test organization,” according to the award nomination.

The Edwards F-35 Integrated Test Force is completing a 15-year flight test effort proving full mission systems capability of the F-35. This past year proved to be very challenging according to Hamilton and the F-35 JPO where the ITF tackled difficult test requirements to ensure the F-35 is capable of providing the operational warfighter with the most advanced capabilities the fighter has to offer. Such strides in 2017 included proving multi-ship interoperability, tracking targets and weapons delivery accuracy achievements.

"Being recognized as a Collier Trophy finalist is very satisfying,” said Hamilton. “This team has made a historic accomplishment in remarkable fashion and it's very fulfilling knowing that their hard work is being recognized. Day in and day out they have made the seemingly impossible a reality and I am humbled and proud to work alongside such fine men and women."

The Collier Trophy Selection Committee will meet March 22 in Arlington, Virginia, with the announcement of the winner the following day. The formal presentation of the Collier Trophy is scheduled for June 14 at a location to be determined. 

The NAA is a non-profit membership organization devoted to fostering opportunities to participate fully in aviation activities and to promote public understanding of the importance of aviation and space flight to the country.

The NAA Collier’s Trophy is named for Robert J. Collier, the son of Collier’s Weekly publisher P.F. Collier, who was a prominent publisher himself and aviator.

Past winners include the crews of Apollo 11 and Apollo 8, the Mercury 7, Scott Crossfield, Elmer Sperry, Howard Hughes, and Orville Wright.  Projects and programs which have been the recipient of the Collier include the B-52 Stratofortress, the Boeing 747, the Cessna Citation, the F-22 Raptor and the International Space Station.

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