Tag Archives: Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

Here’s the first (and second) Australian F-35 Lightning II aircraft

A sneak preview of the first and second F-35 being delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force

The first of 72 F-35s for the Royal Australian Air Force rolled out at Lockheed Martin’s Ft. Worth facility on Jul. 24.

The RAAF is expected to base the Joint Strike Fighter at two bases: Williamtown, in New South Wales, and Tindal, in the Northern Territory, where 1.5 billion USD facilities and infrastructures to support the new fifth generation radar-evading plane will be built.

Ahead of the ceremony, Lockheed Martin unveiled to media the second F-35 (top image), AU-2, which already wears the standard overall grey color scheme along with the RAAF roundels and tail marking of the No 2 Operational Conversion Unit from RAAF Williamtown.

First F-35 RAAF

Above: the first F-35 AU-1

Image credit: Lockheed Martin

 

Royal International Air Tattoo 2014 highlights

Here are some of the highlights of RAF Fairford’s Royal International Air Tattoo 2014.

Even though the F-35B Lightning II aircraft could not cross the Pond to take part in the world’s biggest military airshow, the Royal International Air Tattoo 2014 at RAF Fairford, UK, Jul. 17 – 19 did not fail to attract some interesting visitors.

Here are some of those military aircraft and display teams, shot during their demo flights, arrival or departure, by photographer Estelle Calleja.

A-7 HAF

Last Greek’s A-7 Special Color “Olympus”

 

AH-64 Apache

Army Air Corps AH-64 Apache

 

AMX

Italian Air Force AMX ACOL

 

C-27J

Italian Air Force C-27J

 

F-16 BAF

Belgian Air Force F-16 Demo

 

Frecce Tricolori

Frecce Tricolori aerobatic demo team

 

ItAF Typhoon

Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon

 

Patrouille de France

Patrouille de France

 

Patrouille Suisse

Patrouille Suisse

 

SAF F-18

Swiss Air Force F/A-18

 

Solo Turk

Turkish Air Force F-16 demo “Solo Türk”

 

SpAF Hornet

Spanish Air Force F/A-18

 

Su-22

Polish Air Force Su-22

 

Super Hornet

Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet

All images by Estelle Calleja

 

F-35s return to flight. But they can’t attend Farnborough airshow in the UK

Grounding has been lifted with some restrictions. That’s why the F-35Bs will not be able to cross the Ocean to attend the Farnborough International Airshow.

On Jul. 15, the Pentagon announced the fleet wide grounding has been lifted after investigation on the issue that caused the engine fire on an F-35A CTOL (Conventional Take Off and Landing) on Jun. 23 did not highlight a systemic problem.

The root cause of the fire has been identified in excessive rubbing between the turbine blades and the cowling, a problem not endemic to the fleet, based on the inspections of the other F-35 engines;  still something that must be closely monitored.

That’s why the return to flight is restricted: the F-35s can’t fly faster than Mach 0.9 and are limited to 18 degrees of angle of attack. The envelope is limited from -1 G to +3 Gs and, above all, after three hours of flight time, each front fan section of each engine has to be inspected with a borescope.

Therefore, the aircraft can’t undertake a long range ferry flight across the Pond and for this reason the four F-35B STOVL (Short Take Off and Landing) currently stuck on the ground at NAS Patuxent River (three of those expected to fly to Europe along with a RAF F-35B out of Eglin Air Force Base) will not be able to attend FIA 2014 in the UK.

The official cancellation of the FIA participation brought speculations and rumors, confirmations and denials, to an end.

F-35 to depart

Image credit: U.S. Navy / NAS Patuxent River

 

While the F-35s remain grounded, the Scorpion low-cost multi-mission jet has arrived in the UK

Scorpion jet is going to be one of the highlights of the Royal International Air Tattoo and Farnborough International Airshow.

Whilst it is still unclear whether any F-35 Lightning II aircraft will eventually make it to the UK, Textron Scorpion multi-mission jet has just successfully completed its first flight outside the U.S.

The low-cost ISR (intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance) platform/light tactical strike aircraft for “irregular warfare,” border and maritime patrol, intelligence surveillance reconnaissance, counter-narcotics and air defense operations, covered about 4,700 nautical miles from Wichita to RAF Fairford, UK, where it arrived on Jul. 9 to attend the Royal International Air Tattoo from Jul. 11 to 13. After taking part in RIAT, the aircraft will move to Farnborough for FIA 2014 from Jul. 14 to 20.

Sporting the brand new two-tone dark gray over light gray paint scheme, that has replaced the original flat light gray livery, the aircraft will be on display with several weapons models including Raytheon Griffin Missiles, Boeing JDAM and SDBs, Textron Systems Weapon & Sensor Systems G-CLAWs, Raytheon Enhanced Paveway 4, and Lockheed Martin Hellfire and DAGR.

Although it will not accommodate any air-to-air or air-to-surface radar, the Scorpion will be able to carry various infrared air-to-air missiles and wing-mounted gun pods that could be useful, among the others, for SMI (Slow Mover Interception) missions.

Indeed, at 3,000 USD per flight hour and with stall speeds of less than 100 knots, Scorpion jet could really represent a cost-effective solution to enforce Temporary Flight Restrictions and NFZs (No Fly Zones) to protect chunks of the U.S. airspace.

The journey to the UK included stopovers in Montréal (Canada), Keflavik (Iceland), Edinburgh (UK) and Chalgrove (UK).

Image credit: Textron

 

F-35 fleet grounded indefinitely. Once again.

The F-35 fleet was gronded once again based on initial findings from runway fire incident occurred last week.

The Pentagon has officially announced that all its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II jets has been grounded following the runway fire incident which involved an F-35A at Eglin Air Force Base, on Jun. 23.

The news came just ahead of the long weekend for U.S. Independence Day, as Joint Strike Fighters were expected to cross the Pond to take part to Farnborough International Air Show and Royal International Air Tattoo, in the UK next week.

The participation of the F-35s has not been cancelled yet (indeed, the F-35B STOVL – Short Take Off Vertical Landing variant of the plane, expected to take part to the two leading European airshows, had resumed flights on Jun. 28) but the fleet-wide grounding puts the aircraft’s international debut at risk.

Here’s the official statement from Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby on F-35 Fleet Grounding:

The technical air worthiness authorities of the Department of the Air Force and Department of the Navy have issued a directive to ground the F-35 fleet based on initial findings from the runway fire incident that occurred at Eglin Air Force Base on Monday, June 23. The root cause of the incident remains under investigation. Additional inspections of F-35 engines have been ordered, and return to flight will be determined based on inspection results and analysis of engineering data. Defense Department leadership supports this prudent approach. Preparations continue for F-35 participation in international air shows in the United Kingdom, however a final decision will come early next week.

This is not the first time the entire F-35 fleet is grounded.

On Feb. 22, 2013 the Pentagon decided to suspend the flights of all Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter planes after a crack was found on a turbine blade of a test aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

The decision came only nine days after the DoD had cleared the STOVL variant to resume flying activity after a month-long grounding due to a fueldraulic engine problem.

Image credit: Lockheed Martin