Tag Archives: Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

First ever swing role course on the T-346 prepares Italian Air Force pilots to the Typhoon and Tornado

The Italian Air Force has recently begun training its first Eurofighter and Tornado pilots on the Alenia Aermacchi T-346A at Lecce airbase, in southeastern Italy.

At the beginning of September, the Italian Air Force has launched the very first training course on the T-346A (M-346 “Master”) at 61° Stormo (Wing) based at Lecce-Galatina.

The course, that started 6 months ahead of schedule, is a swing role class held by 212° Gruppo (Squadron) and attended by four Italian pilots who will convert to the Typhoon and Tornado combat fleets upon successful completion of the training, which aims to develop the information management and aircraft handling skills of future pilots before they are assigned to the OCUs (Operational Conversion Units).

M-346 air-to-air two

The four Italian pilots will be trained for 9 months in accordance with a new “experimental syllabus” designed by the squadron’s Instructor Pilots (IPs) in the last months and currently based on 170 training events, 50 percent of those carried out in flight and the remaining 50 percent in the simulator.

In fact, with the “Master,” the training syllabus can be split 50-50 between ground and air segment: half of the flight hours is flown in the simulator and the remaining half is flown on the actual plane with a significant cost reduction. Indeed, thanks to an integrated training system (ITS), student pilots can attend ground lessons and practice the training missions in extremely realistic simulators several times before their knowledge and skills are evaluated by an IP, both at the sim and in flight.

M-346 break

The T-346A is a LIFT (Lead-In Fighter Trainer) with impressive performance, cutting edge human-machine interface and a lot of interesting technologies such as a full digital cockpit, HOTAS (Hands On Throttle And Stick) commands, carefree handling, VCI (Vocal Control Inputs), a Helmet Mounted Display as well as the ability to simulate the flight characteristics of other aircraft and to replicate a wide array of sensors and weapons as if these were actually installed on the aircraft.

The plane itself is just the air segment of the ITS that includes ground-based facilities, academics, simulators, and mission planning and debriefing stations developed to fill the gap between the flight schools and the operational unit and to prepare the pilots to operate Gen. 4th and 5th multirole aircraft in high-threat/high performance environments.

M-346 Simulator

Indeed, while current pilots are being prepared for the Typhoon or Tornado aircraft, in the near future, courses will be aimed at training attendees destined to the F-35 Lightning II.

Besides the Italians, pilots from the Royal Netherlands Air Force, are going to undertake the LIFT course with the T-346A at Lecce, along with the Polish Air Force pilots whose first of 16 pilots will start training on the Master with the ItAF in November.

The Polish Air Force is expected to take delivery of the first of 8 M-346A, selected in 2014, by the second half of 2016.

M-346 air-to-air

Video: F-35Cs land aboard USS Eisenhower to continue Joint Strike Fighter Developmental Testing at sea

The Navy’s F-35C has kicked off the second phase of Developmental Testing at sea.

On Oct. 2, U.S. Navy test pilots Cmdr. Tony “Brick” Wilson and LT Chris “TJ” Karapostoles landed F-35C test aircraft CF-03 and CF-05 aboard USS Eisenhower (CVN 69) off the coast of the eastern United States.

With these two arrested landings the carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter has begun the second phase of Developmental Testing  (DT-II).

F-35C test pilots and engineers from the F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Patuxent River, Maryland, that has already conducted DT-I on the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) from Nov. 3 to 14, 2014, will remain aboard “IKE” until Oct. 15 testing JSF carrier suitability and integration in the at-sea environment.

The test team will achieve this objective through a series of test events designed to gradually expand the aircraft operating envelope at sea. In fact, during DT-II, the F-35C will perform a variety of operational maneuvers, such as catapult take offs and arresting landings, while simulating maintenance operations and conducting general maintenance and fit tests for the aircraft and support equipment.

DT-II is the second of three at sea test phases planned for the F-35C: indeed, as any other naval aircraft the Lightning II undergoes DT-I, -II, and –III test phases. After the end of each Developmental Testing phase, the team conduct an assessment of the F-35C’s performance in the shipboard environment before advising the Navy on any adjustments necessary to ensure that the fifth generation fighter is ready to meet its scheduled initial operational capability in 2018.

As this video shows, cold and wet weather did not prevent the test team from operating the two Lightning IIs aboard the USS Eisenhower.

Lockheed Martin unveils first Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35A

Lockheed Martin rolled out the first F-35A for Norway at its JSF production facility in Fort Worth, Texas.

On Sept. 22, Lockheed Martin rolled out the first Norwegian F-35.

The aircraft, designated AM-1, represents an important production milestone for both the F-35 program and the Norwegian Armed Forces, where 52 Lightning IIs are expected to replace the Royal Norwegian Air Force ageing F-16s, bringing the country national defense into a new era.

Norwegian Minister of Defense, Her Excellency Ine Eriksen Søreide, who was the guest of honor at the event, remarked the importance of the Lightning II for the future of Norwegian Armed Forces. She pointed out in fact that, being a 5th generation aircraft, the F-35 is the only platform able to give Norway the capabilities to face future surface and airborne threats.

Furthermore, the partnership to the F-35 program will also provide the country with high technology work, ensuring the future health, competitiveness and viability of the defense industry in Norway.

AM-1 will be joined soon by Norway’s second jet, known as AM-2, which is scheduled to be delivered to the Royal Norwegian Air Force later this year.

The two F-35s will be based at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, where they will be used for Norwegian and partner country pilot training.

Few weeks ago, another European partner, Italy, achieved a major milestone when the first F-35A destined to the Italian Air Force made its first flight.

F-35 RNoAF roll out front

Image credit: LM, RNoAF

Watch an F-35A fire 181 rounds from its four-barrel 25mm Gatling gun embedded in the left wing

F-35 fired its embedded gun at full capacity.

The F-35 Integrated Test Force has just released an interesting video showing the 181 round gun burst of the 25 millimeter Gatling gun embedded in the F-35A’s left wing root.

The video was filmed during a ground test at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Gun Harmonizing Range on Aug. 14; initial shots were fired on Jun. 9 and ground testing should be completed by the end of this month. Airborne testing is to start in the fall and at the end of the firing campaign the gun will be operative by 2017.

According to LM, the F-35 flight sciences aircraft, AF-2, underwent instrumentation modifications and used a production version of the GAU-22/A gun to achieve the full capacity of 181 rounds: along with practice PGU-23/U target practice rounds (which do not explode on impact) software to replicate being in flight was uploaded to the aircraft to conduct the test.

The F-35 GAU-22/A gun has been among the most controversial topics lately: some criticised the fact that the Joint Strike Fighter’s gun can only hold 181 20mm rounds, fewer than the A-10 Thunderbolt’s GAU-8/A Avenger, that can hold some 1,174 30mm rounds.

Interestingly, the gun is hidden behind closed doors, to reduce the plane’s RCS (radar cross section) and keep it stealth, until the trigger is engaged.

While the F-35A will be equipped with an embedded GAU-22 gun, the B (STOVL – Short Take Off Vertical Landing) and C (CV – Carrier Variant) variants will carry it inside an external pod capable to hold 220 rounds.

Image credit: F-35 Integrated Test Force


Watch Russia’s 5th Gen. stealth fighter perform stunning aerobatics, including “Cobra” and flat spin

The Russian Sukhoi T-50 is going to be a tough adversary for both the F-22 and F-35.

A video published by the TV channel Zvezda shows a Sukhoi PAK FA prototype performing some stunning aerobatics that prove the excellent maneuverability of Russia’s next generation radar-evading fighter jet.

According to the Russians, in terms of maneuvering capabilities, the new aircraft will have no rivals both among its Russian-made predecessors and among the foreign combat planes.

The aircraft is a stealth equipped with a front, side and rear AESA radar, as well as L Band radars. It features TVC (Thrust Vectoring Control), a top speed exceeding Mach 2 and a supermaneuverability that makes the T-50 able to perform, among the others, even the famous Cobra maneuver.

It should carry a wide variety of weapons including air-to-air, air-to-surface and anti-ship missiles.

Although future air-to-air scenarios will probably not involve WVR (Within Visual Range) engagements, where supermaneuverability would give it an edge over most if not all its competitors, and provided it will solve all its problems and will be produced in significant numbers, the T-50 will become a tough adversary for the F-22 and F-35.