Skip to comments.F-35 problems on their way to being fixed
Posted on 05/18/2012 3:54:58 PM PDT by Yo-Yo
The F-35 Lightning II is making good progress through flight testing this year, a top Lockheed Martin official says. Most of the biggest challenges faced by the programme should be well on their way to being fixed by the later part of the year.
One major issue that has recently popped up on the US Navy's F-35C variant is that the aircraft's tail-hook has had to be redesigned. That is because the existing design has failed to catch an arresting cable during trials. Lockheed is working on a new improved hook design that should fix the problem.
"We have modified the hook pointwith a lower center of gravity," says Steve O'Bryan, Lockheed's vice president for F-35 programme integration and business development. Additionally, "we've redesigned the hold-down damper."
The new design is scheduled for its preliminary design review in "the summer." That will be followed by a critical design review in the fourth quarter.
After the new hook design undergoes shore-based qualification trails, the F-35C will undergo sea trials on a carrier in late 2013 or early 2014.
Lockheed is also set to test fixes to the jet's troublesome helmet-mounted display (HMD) this summer, O'Bryan says. Lockheed has reached an agreement with the US government on the HMD requirements, which will help the company to fix imagery lag on the helmet by tweaking the system's software, he says.
The company is also adding micro inertial measurement units (IMU) to the helmet and pilot's seat to dampen out jittery images. "We're going to fly those micro-IMUs this summer," O'Bryan says.
Lockheed hopes that the new ISIE-11 camera, which replaces the existing ISIE-10 cameras, will resolve jet's night vision acuity problems. The new system will undergo testing at MIT's Lincoln Labs later this summer. The system will now consist of two ISIE-11 cameras, one of which will be mounted in the helmet and another on the canopy bow, and imagery pumped in from the F-35's six distributed aperture system (DAS) infrared cameras.
"We're optimistic, we've got a good plan," O'Bryan says.
Meanwhile, the pilots have started to test the imagery from the distributed aperture system. Initial results look to be very promising, O'Bryan says. But there will need to be tweaks as flight tests reveal potential issues.
Other avionics tests are proceeding well. The F-35 has already started testing the Link-16 data-link and will soon start to test the variable message format link which is needed for the close air support mission. There are also ongoing tests with the radar, electronic warfare, and infrared targeting system, which are needed for the release of the Block 2A training software.
On the flight sciences side, the US Marine Corps short take-off vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B test programme is further along than that of the F-35C. The previously troubled B-model is now running 20% ahead of this year's planned test schedule, O'Bryan says.
The F-35B has flown at altitudes over 49,000ft and has hits speeds of Mach 1.4. That's just shy of the F-35's required 50, 000 ft ceiling and Mach 1.6 design speed limit, he says. The B-model has also flown at its maximum airspeed of 630 knots and has achieved its maximum 7G limit.
"It's about over 50% complete with its clean-wing full-envelop test points," O'Byan says.
The F-35C is also about 20% ahead of this year's flight test plan, O'Bryan says. Like the F-35B, the C-model has flown out to 630 knots, but the naval variant is required to hit 700 knots. The C-model has also flown at 45, 000 ft and at speeds of Mach 1.4. It has also hit its maximum 7.5G limit.
That means the USN version has completed about 40% of its clean configuration flight envelope test points, O'Bryan says.
Out at Edwards AFB, California, F-35A will have completed 45% of the totality of its flight test points by the end of the year. By the fourth quarter, the F-35A should have competed its first full lifetime of durability testing, O'Bryan says. There have thus far been no new issues that have arisen as a result of the tests.
'That, I'm happy to say, is going well," he says.
The all versions of the jet have started flying with external stores. Later this year, the aircraft will enter into high angle of attack testing up to 50° angle of attack, O'Bryan says. The programme will also start wet runway tests, engine air starts, and weapons releases.
That said, the F-35 will end up being an outstanding asset for decades to come.
We will be grateful to those who kept the program alive through this phase, as will the next couple of generations who live with it and fight with it.
And best of all, it isn't the Boeing Monica! Boy howdy, that thing is one seriously FUGLY aeroplane!
They are “optimistic” they will be able to pick up this turd by the clean end......soon.
Geez....that is such a silly statement I just don't know where to start.
Take you time. I’ll be here.
At least it looked happy...
Careful, the lovers of this brick will come out in droves against you.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion.
Mine is that Lockheed has been very shifty about this airplane, lobbied against their own F-22 to preserve this project or make it stronger because it is more profitable, the airplane is a lightweight for the mission being short in range and light in payload compared to what it replaces, one engine isn’t a good plan. Lockheed does not have experience in carrier airplanes and the VSTOL is a questionable “asset”.
In negotiations for the fixes I read compromise. This airplane has too much compromise already.
“This airplane has too much compromise already.”
Well, as long as it does not have the F-22s oxygen system, maybe it will be OK.
“That said, the F-35 will end up being an outstanding asset for decades to come.”
Thank you Lockheed-Martin Marketing!
What a dog this thing is! way over schedule, way over budget, will cost way more than we can afford per copy and doesn’t really meet any of its performance goals. Should just buy more F/A-18’s
When I was in the Air Force from 1977-81, the aircraft that I worked on was the F-111A. Talk about your turd, the F-111 program was it to the nines.
However, the F-111F was a very capable aircraft that kicked Lybian ass on one of the the then longest non-stop combat sorties in USAF history, and was a champion tank-plinker in GW I.
The Jack-of-all-trades F-35 mentality came out of trying to design an aircraft to replace the F-16, F/A-18A and -C, and the AV-8B. The F-16’s multiple roles were slowly developed over decades, not designed in all at once.
It’s sort of like building a small house, then over the decades adding a family room, and a garage, and extra bedrooms, then wanting to build a new house that has to have all of those atributes of the old house from the start.
Of course the new house is going to cost much, much more and take much longer to build than the original 2 bedroom bungalow did 30 years ago...
SPOT ON!! The “dog” is YEARS behind schedule, millions over budget, major politicians are ready to can it, oh..did I mention they are on strike nation wide & at Pax River Md.,where they are in the flight test program. Let’s let that info rest....the fact it is a SINGLE ENGINE aircraft should speak volumes for those that really understand combat aircraft.....GO F-18 “Growler!!!”
If you saw the documentary Boeing had a redesign of the front that made it look much, much better.
That will come as news to Viking crews and some Neptune crews not to mention one KC-130 crew and a U-2 pilot.
VSTOL is a questionable asset.(sic)
The correct acronym is STOVL and the Marine Corps has four+ decades of experience that proves you are wrong.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion.
We certainly know what yours is worth.
Describe the commonality between the three variants.
And the defenders of the F-35 rise again like the Kraken from the sea.
Yes, they did build the Viking, that is true. A nice little airplane.
The Navy will be greatly relieved that you know all about C-130 operations to and from carriers. You can remedy their current problem with the F-35 engine deliveries to carriers since the current COD does not have a large enough fuselage interior for the new and large engines of the F-35.
The harrier proves nothing when compared to the F-35 variant. Too much fan and not enough fuel or payload but lots of hot air.
Have a nice day.
If you say so, I haven't seen or read much of it. I do have some familiarity with how this plays out.
Maybe it's because we haven't fielded many new designs in recent years, so people tend to forget how the process goes.
EVERY aircraft in our inventory, the ones you and everyone else uses as an example of why we don't need this new prototype, went through the same thing, with more or less the same complaints and then goes on to decades of projecting power, bringing pilots back to base and keeping the folks back home safe and sound.
If the critics would have won the day as you and others might like to with the F-35, then the F-15, F-16, F/A-18, F-22, B-1B, B2, etc. wouldn't exist, nor would the generation before them, etc.
Most of the complainers wouldn't know the difference between the Sukhois, MiGs and the F-15 and F/A-18, but they just know what a dog the F-35 is.
Yeah, 10-4, good buddy.
“We will be grateful to those who kept the program alive through this phase”
Yeah, Canada has a LOT invested in the F-35 Edsel. I have a lot of praise for PM Stephen Harper, but this is one of his few mistakes. A single engine for an aircraft that will have to do a lot of Arctic patrol? I don’t think so. Plus there’s the cost overuns and delays and ...
Power plant, avionics, and flight software. One example: Cockpit commonality has a "STOVL/HOOK" button that either lowers the hook on A/C or initiates STOVL flight mode on the B.
(Not to A.A. but to others reading this: Yes, the F-35A has a tail hook, as does the F-15, F-16, and F-22. It is not a carrier capable hook, however.)
So, what is the rational for a non-carrier capable tail hook?
Used for emergency landings on airstrips when a plane may not be able to stop, or perhaps because the strip is too short due to damage.
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