The Navy’s F-35C CV (Carrier Variant) version of the Joint Strike Fighter has finally landed onto the USS Nimitz’s flight deck using a new arresting gear.
On Nov. 3, at 12.18PM LT, F-35C CF-3 with a new tailhook assembly successfully, piloted by Navy test pilot Cmdr. Tony Wilson, landed on the flight deck of USS Nimitz, marking the very first arrested landing of the costly 5th generation plane on a supercarrier.
The successful arrested landing comes about three years after the F-35C, the variant developed for the U.S. Navy proved to be unable to get aboard a flattop because of its first tailhook design issues.
At that time, 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. According to the subsequent reports, root cause analysis pointed to some AHS (Arresting Hook System) design issues: aircraft geometry (short distance between the Main Landing Gear tires and the tailook point); tailkook point design, with scarce ability to scoop low positioned cables;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 was too short and the responsive dynamics were such that the cable lied nearly flat on the deck by the time the tailkook point should intercept it for arrestment.
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.
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.