Category Archives: F-35

Here’s The Video Of The First Aerobatic Flight Demo Of The F-35: Does It Showcase Exceptional Maneuverability Or Quite The Opposite?

Lockheed Martin Test Pilot Billie Flynn just performed his first F-35A Flight Demo At Paris Air Show. Did he “crush years of misinformation about what this aircraft is capable of doing” as promised?

Set against a brilliant French sky with puffy cumulus clouds Lockheed Martin’s star test pilot Billie Flynn thrilled the crowd at Le Bourget Airport outside Paris, France today as he wheeled and tumbled his F-35A Lightning II through an aerobatic demonstration some critics claimed was nearly impossible.

The performance included low speed, high angle of attack maneuvers, tight turning, numerous rolls and maximum performance climbs that would silence the critics who said the F-35 could not dogfight and “crush years of misinformation about what this aircraft is capable of doing“.

While the F-35’s advanced sensor and integration avionics are designed to win the fight long before the “merge” of aerial combat into visual dogfighting range, this demonstration aimed to show the controversial Joint Strike Fighter can hold its own in a knife-fight with the Sukhois, MiGs, Chengdus, Shenyangs and other likely adversaries.

At the 2:00 mark in the video test pilot Flynn positions the F-35A at show left and performs a high-alpha, ultra low speed pass, standing the Lightning II on her tail and dancing across the Paris sky as the aircraft’s twinkle-toed elevators maintain stable flight on a boiling cushion of thrust from her growling Pratt & Whitney F135 engine. It is a spectacular sight. Enough to silence the skeptics? Hard to say. Most probably not enough, considered what people are used to see when a 4th Gen. aircraft or the F-22 are able to do during an airshow routine.

Returning to lower altirude in the demonstration box, Flynn performs a maximum performance, high-G turn with afterburner similar to what we’ve seen with many other demos. This version of the flight demonstration does not feature the open weapon bay doors as with the F-22 demo we’ve seen many times. One of the F-35A demo routines does include a pass with the weapons bay doors opened.

Honestly speaking the new PAS 2017 routine seems to be more dynamic than expected. But in terms of instantaneous and sustained turn rates the F-35 does not seem to match the performance of the famous super-maneuverable Sukhois, Eurofighter Typhoon, Gripen or Rafale (to name but few).

Still, the unique features of the JSF are its stealth design, sensor fusion capabilities and unmatched SA (Situational Awareness): that is to say all the ingredients for success in modern air-to-ground operations. Comparing the F-35 to an F-22, Typhoon or even F/A-18 in terms of energy-maneuverability is probably wrong and misleading.

So, let us know what are you thoughts after watching this demo:

a) do you think it’s more than enough considered that the aircraft will probably never be engaged in a Within Visual Range dogfight?

b) it’s rather disappointing because super-maneuverability remains a key to succeed in modern scenarios?

You judge.

Top image: file photo of the F-35 Heritage Flight Team’s F-35A validation flights on July 5, 2016.

 

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Paris Demo Will “Crush Years Of Misinformation” Says Lockheed Martin Demo Pilot As New F-35A Aerobatic Routine for PAS 2017 Is Revealed

“We are going to crush years of misinformation about what this aircraft is capable of doing”

After we scooped the story about the F-35A’s new fully aerobatic flight demonstration to be performed at this week’s Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport in France, Aviation Week reporter Lara Seligman wrote today in AW that Lockheed Martin company test and demo pilot Billie Flynn told her, “After 10 years since its first flight, with our first opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities and the maneuverability of the F-35, we are going to crush years of misinformation about what this aircraft is capable of doing,” during an interview for Aviation Week.

The flight demonstrations at the Paris Air Show will be flown by company pilot Billie Flynn, not U.S. Air Force crews.

The USAF F-35A demonstration aircraft to be flown in the flight demo and on static display at Paris were ferried to Europe by USAF crews even though the flying routing will be flown by a Lockheed Martin pilot.

Lockheed Martin is on an aggressive campaign to close sales for the F-35A among user-nations as confirmed by stories breaking this morning that report, “Lockheed Martin is in the final stages of negotiating a $37 billion-plus deal to sell 440 F-35 fighter jets to a group of 11 nations including the United States”, two people familiar with the deals told Reuters news agency.

Lara Seligman’s report for Aviation Week identifies both the “high show” F-35A flight demonstration routine and the “low show” routine performed at lower altitude in the event of overcast/cloudy weather conditions. A quick check of the weather forecast for the next five days in the skies above Le Bourget says conditions will be hot with high temperatures in the ‘90’s Fahrenheit and “Mostly Sunny” conditions with a small chance of rain.

The new, dynamic flight demo routine for F-35A at Paris beginning today. (Image: Lockheed Martin via Aviation Week)

Seligman quoted demo pilot Flynn as saying that, “The [Paris] flight demonstration is carefully scripted to highlight the kinematic capabilities of the F-35A, particularly its slow-speed handling qualities.” She reported that, “He will start with an afterburner takeoff, almost immediately pointing his nose to the sky and letting the aircraft climb away essentially vertically.” Flynn went on to mention tell reporter Seligman that, “This impressive move is unique to the F-22 and the F-35.”

Back in 2013, talking to Flight’s Dave Majumdar, the very same LM test pilot Bill Flynn claimed that all three variants of the Joint Strike Fighter were to have better kinematic performance than any fourth-generation fighter plane with combat payload, including the Eurofighter Typhoon, a statement that was somehow “busted” by a Typhoon pilot who clearly explained The Aviationist “No way an F-35 will ever match a Typhoon fighter jet in aerial combat.”

Anyway, along with everyone else in the aviation world, we’re looking forward to the new, dynamic F-35A show debuting this week in Paris. The first F-35A demo at Paris flies today at 3:30 PM local time in France.

Top image: Today in Paris will be the first time airshow crowds get to see what the F-35A is capable of in demonstration flight. (Inverted file photo by Tom Demerly)

 

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F-35A Filmed Rehearsing Its New Flight Demonstration Routine In Preparation For Paris Air Show 2017

F-35A Aerobatic Rehearsal for Paris.

U.S. Air Force F-35A “AF-78” tail number 13-5072 from the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill AFB, Utah performed a low show aerial demonstration practice for the 2017 Paris Airshow, near Fort Worth, Texas, earlier this month.

Aviation photographer Caulun Belcher of Texas shot the video of the F-35A rehearsing its new flight demonstration routine in Texas in preparation for the upcoming Paris Air Show next week at Le Bourget Airport in north Paris, France, from June 19-25.

We reported back on May 19 that restrictions for aerobatics imposed on the F-35A during the 2016 airshow season had likely been relaxed or lifted altogether. This video suggests a complete removal of aerobatic restrictions.

The F-35A flight demonstrations in Paris and presumably this aerobatic rehearsal in Texas are flown by Lockheed/Martin test pilots, not USAF pilots. A report suggested U.S. Air Force crews would fly the two demonstration aircraft to France for the Paris Air Show.

Video of the F-35A flight demonstration shows an all-new flight demo routine for the U.S. Air Force F-35A: the aircraft enters the demonstration box in the video from left of show center in the landing configuration and performs a touch and go.

The F-35A then performs a right and left aileron roll, a new feature in the flight demo from the previous year. Repositioning from right the aircraft repeats the aileron rolls as if to emphasize its roll rate. The aircraft executes several more complete aileron rolls and flat turns with the trademark F-35A vapor streaming from its wingtips and wing roots under tight radius turns. The demo pilot appears to be enjoying ringing the aircraft out like we’ve never seen at an F-35A demo.

Caulun Belcher’s excellent video of the F-35A demonstration practice and some of his outstanding still photos were shared on YouTube and on the Facebook page for his aviation photography.

We’re looking forward to more F-35A flight demo photos and video from Paris this coming weekend, meanwhile enjoy this preview:



Top image credit: Caulun Belcher photo of a USAF F-35A rolling inverted in Texas while rehearsing for Paris Air Show.

USAF F-35A Flight Operations Halted at Luke AFB, Oxygen Supply Problems Cited

Five Pilots Report Symptoms Similar to Hypoxia.

The U.S. Air Force has reported that flight operations for F-35A Lightning II aircraft at Luke AFB near Phoenix, Arizona in the United States have been temporarily halted.

USAF Brig. Gen Brook Leonard, commanding officer of the 56th Fighter Wing that operates the F-35A, said in a press release that, “In order to synchronize operations and maintenance efforts toward safe flying operations we have cancelled local F-35A flying.”

The announcement that appeared on the official Luke AFB website via the U.S. Air Force Office of Public Affairs stopped short of calling the temporary halt to flight operations a “grounding”.

It is possible Air Force officials are using caution in references to any halt in flight operations to avoid potential associations with a series of incidents on the F-22 Raptor from early 2012 with crew life support equipment, specifically the oxygen system. The incidents from 2012 led to a sensational expose’ on the U.S. investigative reporting show “60 Minutes” in which two Virginia Air National Guard pilots said the F-22 was unsafe to fly due to problems with its crew life support system. Additionally, in March of this year U.S. Navy officials told U.S. Congress there was an increase in “physiological episodes” in the long successful Boeing FA-18 Hornet.

The official Air Force news release reads, in part, “According to base officials, since May 2, 2017, five F-35A pilots assigned to Luke AFB have reported physiological incidents while flying. In each case, the aircraft’s backup oxygen system operated as designed and the pilot followed correct procedures, landing the aircraft safely.”

The Air Force statement went on to say, “Wing officials will educate U.S. and international pilots today on the situation and increase their awareness of hypoxia symptoms. Pilots will also be briefed on all the incidents that have occurred and the successful actions taken by pilots to safely recover their aircraft.”

Capt. Mark Graff, an official U.S. Air Force spokesman, said the temporary halt of F-35A flight operations was done, “not out of fear or out of danger, but out of an abundance of caution,” Capt. Graff also told news media that the Air Force plans to resume flight operations on Saturday.

The temporary halt of flight operations includes 55 of the U.S. Air Force F-35A’s at Luke AFB. The story is contrasted by a lengthy phase of successes for the F-35 program that include successful deliveries to international F-35 users like Japan and Israel, operational deployments of the U.S. Marine F-35B V/STOL version to Japan and major deployment of Air Force F-35As to Europe.

 

The First Japanese-Built F-35A Unveiled At Nagoya Production Facility In Japan

AX-5, the first Japanese-assembled F-35A was unveiled in Nagoya Japan earlier today.

The first F-35A assembled in Japan, AX-5 “79-8705”, was unveiled out of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Komaki South F-35 Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility on Jun. 5.

Just like the Italian F-35 FACO in Cameri, the Japan F-35 FACO is operated by a local aerospace company, MHI. with technical assistance from Lockheed Martin and oversight from the U.S. Government.

According to a LM release, approximately 200 people attended the ceremony including Japanese and United States government and defense industry leaders.

“Seeing the first Japanese built F-35A is a testament to the global nature of this program”, said Vice Adm. Mat Winter, F-35 Program Executive Officer. “This state of the art assembly facility, staffed with a talented and motivated workforce, enables us to leverage industry’s unique talents and technological know-how to produce the world’s best multi-role fighter. The F-35 will enhance the strength of our security alliances and reinforce long-established bonds with our allies through training opportunities, exercises, and military-to-military events.”

The Japanese Ministry of Defense selected the Joint Strike Fighter as the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s next-generation air defense fighter in December 2011, with a Foreign Military Sales program of 42 F-35As. The first four JASDF F-35As were previously delivered from the Fort Worth, Texas production facility. Subsequent deliveries of 38 F-35A aircraft will come from the FACOin Japan.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Defense selected the Nagoya FACO in 2014 for the North Asia-Pacific regional heavy airframe Maintenance Repair Overhaul & and Upgrade (MROU) facility.

The JASDF’s  low visibility “Hinomaru” roundel applied to the F-35A AX-5 and visible in top image (by Thinh Nguyen, Lockheed Martin) appears to be slightly more evident and recognizable than the one sported by the first JASDF F-35A (AX-1) that was rolled out at prime contractor Lockheed Martin’s Dallas-Fort Worth plant on Sept. 23, 2016 (see image below).

A screenshot from the video of the roll-out ceremony for the first JASDF F-35A on Sept. 23, 2016.