F-35: flying on phased out fuel or programmed by a videogame freak?

Jan 23 2012 - 1 Comment

Soon after publishing the article about the “F-35 from the Cockpit” I’ve received some emails and comments about an interesting thing readers have noticed in one of the webminar slides used to show the Joint Strike Fighter glass cockpit’s symbology.

As the following image seems to suggest, the most advanced 5th generation combat plane, integrating the best stealth technologies, full sensor fusion and a futuristic X-ray-like capable helmet, flies on JP-4 fuel, a dangerous kind of propellant, quick to ignite and explode, that was largely used from 1951 to 1996, when it was phased out and replaced by the safer, kerosene-based, JP-8.

Image: Lockeed Martin (highlight mine)

As explained in the website of Air BP (“the specialised aviation division of BP, providing fuels, lubricants & services to our customers in over 50 countries worldwide”):

although JP-8 has replaced JP-4 in most every case, the potential need for JP-4 under emergency situations necessitates maintaining this grade in specifications MIL-DTL-5624 and Defence Standard 91-88.

However, unless the JP-4 was/is used for testing purposes, it is quite strange that while some combat planes are beginning to perform test flights on eco-friendly biofuel or synthetic fuel, the F-35 is flying on a type of jet propellant presumed to be phased-out or used only in emergency situations.

Unless, the F-35’s glass cockpit symbology, so “user friendly” to remind some early flight simulator games, was not only designed for a “videogame freak” as test pilots said during the webminar, but also by someone who used to play with arcade games with some simulation elements (as F/A-18 Interceptor or F-19 Stealth Fighter) in the  ’90s, when the JP-4 was still in use :)

  • http://twitter.com/ChrisCicc Chris Cicchitelli (@ChrisCicc)

    Or that’s an ancient mock-up, and not the current GUI. Doesn’t seem all that finger friendly, really, especially with gloves.