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.
Thanks, I had no idea, and I was on Enterprise for 4 years. I was a reactor operator so I didn’t see much sunlight.
*I* know the difference.
Now that I have demonstrated my vast knowledge, please know that the F-35 is a miserable dog that can never work.
As for Boeings JSF version....ugly, most assuredly, but that being said at least it had flown & completed its contract requirement qualifications WAY BEFORE Lockheeds “dream machine” EVER had flown (about 2 years earlier!) Here at Pax River Md. where they are flight testing it, it is common knowledge it is a “plagued project” by many who work there whom I know personally.
You mean the same X-32 that in it's STOVL B version couldn't demonstrate STOVL flight and supersonic flight in the same sortie because it was too heavy? The same X-32 that was a delta wing in prototype but couldn't meet all payload and performance requirements, so Boeing proposed a conventional wing-tailplane version that was never built in flyable prototype?
For what it's worth, I wasn't for either JSF version and once the F-35 was selected, it was obviously over promised and oversold, just like almost every program is.
Once anything is selected, we then find out how many mods. and Rev. letter changes does it take to turn whatever the military initially buys into what it was initially promised.
And then someone or some politician comes along and changes the original requirements, adding more delays, mods and revisions. That's the process.
This is especially true with something as complex as a cutting edge F-35, where all the state of the art electronic and mechanical systems, along with the airframe and subsystems take that same path to get to the initial specs and/or to the revised specs.
When you then add politics to all phases, from the initial criteria through to the final product, along with a dumbed down population and an even dumber media creating our opinions for us, here we are bitching about what a dog the F-35 is. Where else would we be?
I doubt it would have been different with the Monica, except for it's sheer fugliness would have added to the negative impressions easily created by the msm.
None of this is new or unique. I read an interesting article on the Dornier Do 335 Pfeil (Arrow) that explained how it was a victim of a similar process.
And that is the way we build them today, but it's definitely not the way Kelly Johnson's Lockheed did things.
Sadly, those days appear to be long gone.
Right on target! Good post! I can’t disagree with the points you articulated & very good ones they are. What my biggest point of dispair with the JSF is the fact it is a single engine plane & it can’t limp home if the engine is failed (obviously I’m a twin engine guy!) Here at Pax River Md., we have a flight test program which we all know is years behind schedule, billions over co$t, our co-partnered allies in this project are staqrting to balk & reassess their options, politicians starting to squawk about the preceeding points & they go on strike!! A UNION that thinks that a “better contract” can be had???!!! The strikers sit at the bases back gate & the project get farther behind!! Once again the unions work to the detriment of America.....but I digress! From one of the mechs that works on the plane, the maintenance hours vrs. the flight hours is staggering! YET ANOTHER REASON to be skeptical of this boondoggle.
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.
Hope they are using US made chips, not Chinese.
Hate to be flying along at night, in weather, when the Chinese turn the chip off by remote control
Just curious...anybody know if the F35 has OBOGS as well?
Has it been poisoning/LOC/hypoxying (if that’s a word) test pilots?