[Photo] Air-to-Air images of Australia’s first F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter

Oct 01 2014 - 18 Comments

Australia’s first Lockheed Martin F-35A Lighning II made its maiden flight. And here are a couple of interesting photographs.

On Sept. 29, F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, AU-1, made its first flight from Lockheed Martin’s Forth Worth facility, in Texas.

Piloted by Lockheed Martin F-35 Chief Test Pilot Alan Norman, the aircraft performed a series of functional checks during the sortie that lasted two hours.

The aircraft, one of the 72 multi-role planes destined to the RAAF will be delivered to the “customer” later this year and will be assigned to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona where Australia and other partner countries will train their F-35 pilots.

The RAAF is expected to base the Joint Strike Fighter at two airfields: 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.

The futuristic (and quite expensive) F-35, along with RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet (some of those are deployed in the UAE to support U.S. led campaign against ISIS) and EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft, will make Australia a regional air power.

RAAF F-35 first flight turn

Image credit: Lockheed Martin

 

  • aniptofar

    Photoshopped

    • Bigdirk

      Agree. But to what extent I can’t say. Aft control surfaces don’t look quite in the right position for its maneuvering. Anyone else?

      • Joe

        Nope, looks real. Flaps extended so it can keep slow enough for the camera plane it’s flying form off of. EO looks fine too, not seeing anything out of place.

    • Bigdirk

      AND… check out the image representing the Electro-optical targeting system on the underside of the nose – doesn’t look real!!

  • tim robinson

    Sure, hate the JSF programme but THAT is one sexy pic

    • McPosterdoor

      New wallpaper ;). The kangaroo is a nice touch.

  • jetaddicted

    when an air force general says that he wouldn’t have these f35s if he didn’t have some raptors to protect them; one must try to understand the point in buying them…

    • Adam Scott Richard

      Agreed. The RAAF better keep the Rhinos & Growlers & replace them with the F/A-XX.

      • Michael Rich

        We wouldn’t sell the F-22 because of technology transfer issues, you think we are going to just give them the new Sixth Gen F/A-XX when it becomes operational?

        • tim robinson

          Yes. Yes they will, with a few allies anyway. Modern theatres encourage dissemination of systems

          No doubt some whistles will be omitted but for key partners, post JSF, XX will probably be available for limited export

    • mike webber

      Because the same General said that “F-35s are critical to air supremacy”
      His name is General Hostage, and according to him.

      “An F-35 going into a dogfight, will have AT LEAST the same maneuverability as an F-16.”

      With Stealth, multi-spectral sensors, Data fusion,, Advanced electronic warfare and networking capabilities.

      Basically his point was simply the F-35 can fight air-air but it will still need F-22s, so we can’t afford to cut the F-22 out of the equation

      Read here:
      http://breakingdefense.com/2014/06/gen-mike-hostage-on-the-f-35-no-growlers-needed-when-war-starts/3/

    • McPosterdoor

      I believe you always have air superiority fighters covering bomb trucks, which unfortunately is what F-35 is, amongst other things. In fact one must question the Australian purchase of Growlers if they believed in all the F-35 was touted as in terms of control of the EMS.

      • mike webber

        If you are still wondering if the F-35 can actually perform as a fighter. lets do a few test.

        The notion that the F-35 is slow and sluggish is a common misconception among aircraft enthusiast who have not properly researched about the aircraft.

        when it comes to maneuverability, the F-35 is superior than the aircraft its replacing, namely the F-16C and F/A-18 which are excellent maneuvering platforms in their own right.

        To match the F-16, the F-35’s thrust to weight ratio and wing loading characteristics are similar or better than a Viper when loaded for combat.

        Wing loading = total weight divided by wing area
        thrust to weight = total thrust divided by total weight.

        Typical Air-Air load.

        F-16C (block 50)
        Empty: 18,900 lbs
        Load: 8,000 lbs (6,000lbs of fuel + 6 missiles)
        Combat Weight: 26,900 lbs
        Wing Area: 300 feet
        Thrust: 28,600 lbs

        Wing loading: 89.66 lbs / square feet
        Thrust-to-weight ratio: 1.06

        ________________________________________________________

        F-35A
        Empty: 29,300 lbs
        Load: 11,000 lbs (9,000lbs of fuel + 6 missiles)
        Combat Weight: 40,300 lbs
        Wing Area: 460 feet
        Thrust: 43,000 lbs

        Wing loading: 87.60 lbs / square feet
        Thrust-to-weight ratio: 1.06

        Even when loaded with 50% more fuel than the F-16, the F-35’s wing loading is still better.
        Its thrust to weight ratio is identical to the Block 50 which is arguably the best maneuvering version of the F-16.

        Furthermore it will not have any of the F-16’s parasitic drag due to external weapons carriage.

        another measure of agility is an aircrafts capability to execute high Angle of attack maneuvers, to point the nose away from the aircraft’s flight path vector (direction of where it is actually going).

        Amongst 4th gen fighters, the American F/A-18 and Soviet designed Su-27 reigned supreme in this arena.

        To match the F/A-18, the F-35 has a chined forward fuselage that produces powerful vortices at high angles of attack. The engine cowls are also designed to produce vortex lift acting like the F/A-18’s LERX surfaces.

        Its flight control software’s AOA limit is 50 degrees and has been tested to 73 degrees with ease, most fighters like the Typhoon and Rafale are limited to around 25 degrees,

        the MIG 29 can theoretically reach only 45 degrees without its limiter,
        but pilots of the fulcrum choose to engage the limiter because the Mig-29 easily goes out of control or depart when at high AOA,

        the F-35 on the other hand is notoriously difficult to depart and extremely easy to put back in controlled flight if ever it does depart. So “if”, or should I say “when” the F-35 finds its self needing maneuverability, it will have plenty to go around

        Pilots who have flown the F-35 are reportedly very impressed with the F-35’s Kinematic performance. here is one such pilot, an evaluator who’s job is to throughly scrutinize aircraft.

        http://www.8newsnow.com/story/24245766/ … lightening

        According to him “[the F-35 is] Borrowing some of the best features of the F-16, F-18, A-10, and the hovering Marine Corps Harrier, the F-35 is fast, stealthy, and packs a punch.

        “Fantastic to fly, very powerful, very maneuverable, easy to handle,” Lt. Col O’Malley said.”

        And as you can see by the data above. The claim is not farfetched at all.

        • tim robinson

          Great post

  • bumnuts

    If it is photoshopped its a very clean cut out as there are no “weird” pixels, smudges or artefacts.

    Looks real to me, even if there is an element of post processing to make it look pretty.

  • Sopfoel

    Those are renders

  • tim robinson

    I’d be interested to see if a Russian editor put that 120 degrees on wiki and if it was from a 0 Axis, or less to make the 120? a pugachev cobra that moves through the 120 degrees when nose down

    MiG bureau States a total arc of 105 degrees with a sustained AoA of ‘approx 45 degrees’

    PAKFA – so much potential & promise, within a technology curve that’s ahead of where Russia is..

  • tim robinson

    Can’t recall source, may have been AWST, on an article about 6-8 weeks where Elbit/Rockwell had implemented significant capabilities that eliminate video lag to -.01 of a second (sub 10 milliseconds) since their 2012 ‘on warning’ report

    No offence to yourself but many of the issues that protagonists of the programme have issues or problems that are years old (the engine issue notwithstanding, and is probably an indicator of poor policy than the planes overall abilities) and are being dealt with, ahead of the media/commenter awareness curve