Tag Archives: F-35C

Video: First F-35 Carrier Variant night flight. With heavy afterburner usage.

After the first cool images, here’s the video of the F-35C test plane CF-2 during the first night flight on Jun. 13.

As seen when the F-35A made its first night sortie in January, note the green night formation lights, used by combat plane to make formation flying easier after dark.

This is one of the coolest F-35 photos, ever: Carrier Variant first night take off with full afterburner

The following image shows Marine Corps test pilot Lt. Col. Matt Taylor as he ascends in F-35C test aircraft CF-2, on Jun. 13. It was taken at NAS Patuxent River and depicts the first night takeoff for the carrier variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The flight was aimed at evaluating the aircraft’s night lighting system.

Click on the image below to download the high-rez version of the cool photo (3000px).

Image credit: Lockheed Martin via U.S. Navy

And here’s another one, just uploaded by LM on the company’s Flickr photostream.

Photo: U.S. Navy Carrier Variant F-35C's first formation flight

On Apr. 18, two F-35C Lightning II carrier variant aircraft launched together from Naval Air Station Patuxent River and conducted formation flying for more than one hour.

The mission flown by the two aircraft, known as CF-1 and CF-2, and piloted by Navy Cdr. Eric Buus and Marine Corps Lt. Col. Matt Taylor, respectively, aimed to test flying qualities of the aircraft while taking off, landing and flying in formation.

Image credit: Lockheed Martin

UK to reverse decision on F-35 version. Two aircraft carriers and 72 retired Harriers later.

After the first of the UK’s F-35s took to the air on Apr. 13, it would seem that British Prime Minister David Cameron has been persuaded into going back with the STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) version and reverse his earlier decision to reverse order from the F-35B the F-35C CV (Carrier Variant).

The British newspaper The Daily Mail has reported that Cameron has taken on board military advice and gone with the B version that was controversially axed in 2010 as the British government, following a Strategic Defence and Security Review, negotiated a deal to get the JSF that will equip the American flattops instead of that destined for the U.S. Marine Corps.

Cameron made the U-turn after hearing that the changes needed by the two carriers would amount to £1.8 billion and delay the whole project by 7 years.

The Daily Mail quoted a Downing street official as saying: “The major problem with the conventional aircraft [the CV variant] is that we would be without carrier capability for far too long”.

Obviously, such uncertainity gives us more ammunition to criticise the initial decision to scrap the two small aircraft carriers HMS Ark Royal and HMS Invincible (leaving the UK with no maritime strike capability for a decade or more), the subsequent retirement of the Harrier “Jump Jet” and last year’s sale of the RAF’s 72 Harrier jets to the USMC for a mere 180 million USD.

The (final?) decision is expected to be signed off officially within the next few weeks.

In the meanwhile Lockheed Martin has released a video of the UK’s F-35B inaugural flight.

The one in the video should be UK future’s F-35 version. Until next U-turn on future Britain’s aircraft carrier and naval aviation.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

"F-35C unable to land aboard aircraft carriers" report says. U.S. Navy and Royal Navy have something to be worried about.

As highlighted by an interesting article published on F-16.net, among all the other flaws listed in the JSF Concurrency Quick Look Review dated 29 November 2011 (an official document recently leaked), there is one issue that might have a significant impact on American and British naval aviation’s future plane.

According to the leaked report, the F-35C, the variant developed for the U.S. Navy (and chosen by the UK for its future aircraft carrier), is unable to get aboard a flattop because of its tailhook design issues.

During specific tests conducted at NAWC-AD (Naval Air Warfare Center – Aircraft Division) Lakehurst, the F-35C failed to engage the MK-7 arresting gear with a disappointing score of 0 successes in 8 attempts. Considered that arrestment testing takes place on a normal airport, without the thrill of bad weather, pitching deck, nearby obstacles, low fuel, lack of alternate airfields and all those factors that make a trap on an aircraft carrier the scariest kind of flying.

Root cause analysis points to some AHS (Arresting Hook System) design issues:

  1. aircraft geometry (short distance between the Main Landing Gear tires and the tailook point)
  2. tailkook point design, with scarce ability to scoop low positioned cables
  3. tailkook hold-down ineffective performance in damping bounces relative to the deck surface profiles.

In other words, the distance of 7.1 feet between the tires and the tailhook is too short and the responsive dynamics are such that the cable lies nearly flat on the deck by the time the tailkook point should intercept it for arrestment.

Although the current F-35C tailhook point design was based on that of the Hornet, the F-18 geometry places the distance of its main landing gear to tailhook point at 18.2 feet, a longer distance where the trampled cable has enough time to respond and flex back to its original position.

To address the tailhook issues, the tailhook point and hold down damper components will be redesigned and tested at NAWC-AD, Lakehurst in April 2012.

Most probably, LM engineers will find a way to fix the AHS problem.

However, “if the proposed redesigned components do not prove to be compatible with MK-7 arresting gear, then significant redesign impacts will ensue. Accordingly, the program is conducting a formal trade study to assess options beyond AHS redesign. One option includes adjustments of AHS airframe location. However, since arrestment loads are significant and the aircraft has certain constraints with respect to engine location and survivability considerations, any readjustment of AHS location will have major, direct primary and secondary structure impacts” report says.

While the X-47B UCAV has a longer MLG to tailhook distance (longer than the TA-4J) than the F-35, meaning that it should not be affected by the same problem, maybe the UK Royal Navy is still in time to design its future carrier’s arresting gear to comply with the F-35C’s AHS. Or revert back to the F-35B….:-)

Image source: Lockheed Martin