Tag Archives: F-35

F-15E Strike Eagles unable to shoot down the F-35s in 8 dogfights during simulated deployment

“0 losses in 8 dogfights against F-15E Red Air”

The U.S. Air Force F-35A fleet continues to work to declare the Lightning II IOC (initial operational capability) scheduled in the August – December timeframe.

Among the activities carried out in the past weeks, a simulated deployment provided important feedbacks about the goal of demonstrating the F-35’s ability to “penetrate areas with developed air defenses, provide close air support to ground troops and be readily deployable to conflict theaters.”

Seven F-35s deployed from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to  Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, to carry out a series of operational tests which involved local-based 4th Generation F-15E Strike Eagles belonging to the 366th Fighter Wing.

In a Q&A posted on the USAF website, Col. David Chace, the F-35 systems management office chief and lead for F-35 operational requirements at ACC, provided some insights about the activities carried out during the second simulated deployment to Mountain Home (the first was in February this year):

“The F-35 recently deployed from Hill to Mountain Home where crews, maintenance and support personnel conducted a number of missions. During that deployment, crews attained a 100 percent sortie generation rate with 88 of 88 planned sorties and a 94 percent hit rate with 15 of 16 bombs on target.
These numbers provide a positive indication of where we are when it comes to stability and component performance.”

“Feedback from the events at Mountain Home will feed into the overall evaluation of F-35 capabilities. The second evaluation will take place in the operational test environment with F-35 mission sets the Air Force intends to execute after IOC. All reports will be delivered in July and feed into the overall F-35 capabilities report. The ultimate goal is to provide a needed capability to the warfighter to execute the mission. It is not calendar-based or event-based.”

“The feedback from unit operators in place today has been very positive for the F-35, not just concerning performance but the ability the aircraft has with other platforms. In particular at Hill, integration with the F-15E (Strike Eagle) has gone very well. We’ve also been demonstrating the ability to put bombs on target. All of that information will be provided to us in the formal IOC readiness assessments.”

The following interesting chart accompanies the Q&A.

It shows some stats about the deployment.

F-35 deployment

The fourth column shows something interesting: during the exercise, the F-35s were challenged by some F-15Es and suffered no losses.

Even though the graphic does not say whether the F-35s did shoot back at the F-15Es some analysts (noticing also the “pew pew pew” in the chart….) have suggested the JSFs achieved stunning 8:0 kill rate against the Strike Eagle.

However, the “zero losses” may simply mean that the F-35s were able to complete their assigned strikes without being shot down by the aggressors of the Red Air: considered that the F-15Es were probably equipped with the AN/APG-82 AESA radar and the Sniper ATP (Advanced Targeting Pod), the fact that the Strike Eagles performing DCA (Defensive Counter Air) were not able to “find” and/or “engage” the almost-IOC F-35s can be considered a huge achievement for the pricey, troubled 5th generation multirole combat plane.

Actually, this is not the first time the F-35 proves itself able to fly unscathed through a fighter-defended area: not a single Lightning II was shot down during Green Flag 15-08, the first major exercise conducted, more or less one year ago, on the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, during which the F-35 flew as main CAS (Close Air Support) provider.

At that time, several analysts claimed the participation of two test aircraft in the exercise was just a PR stunt, since the aircraft was still quite far from achieving a combat readiness required to really support the troops at war.

Let’s see what happens this time…

 

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Lockheed Martin has officially unveiled Israel’s first F-35

Here’s the F-35A “Adir” (“Mighty One”): the first Lightning II for the Israeli Air Force.

With a ceremony broadcast live on Youtube, the first Israeli F-35 was rolled out on Jun. 22 at Lockheed Martin production plant at Ft. Worth, Texas.

The 5th Generation aircraft, designated AS-1, is expected to be delivered to the Israeli Air Force (IAF) later this year.

According to the Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who spoke during the arrival of the F-35 stealth fighter, “the most advanced in the world and the best for safeguarding Israel’s aerial superiority,” will enhance the Israeli deterrence against its enemies for many years to come.

Israel has contracted for 33 F-35A Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) aircraft through the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales program with an option for 17 more Joint Strike Fighters.

The aircraft will have components contributed by Israeli companies, including Israel Aerospace Industries that will produce the F-35’s outer wings, Elbit Systems-Cyclone, that will provide center fuselage composite components as well as Elbit Systems Ltd. that will provide Gen. III helmet-mounted display systems to be worn by all Lightning II pilots.

It’s still not clear how many “domestic” modifications, including EW (Electronic Warfare) pods, weaponry, C4 systems etc. the aircraft, sometimes dubbed F-35I (for Israel) will embed.

F-35 IAF 2

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Take a look at these photos of “shock collars” forming around an F-35 during an airshow

Stunning photographs of vapour cones generated by the RNlAF F-35s during “Luchtmachtdagen 2016” airshow.

On Jun. 10, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter made its international airshow debut with an Air Power Demo performed during an airshow at Leeuwarden Air Base, in the Netherlands.

The first two Dutch F-35A aircraft, AN-1 (F-001) and AN-2 (F-002), simulated a series of attacks on the airfield and conducted some high-speed passes that were made particularly interesting because of the condensation clouds that appeared around the JSF: known as shock collar or vapour cone, these cloud are generated by a sudden drop in pressure associated with high speed that allows water vapour to condense as vapour.

Although many believe that these clouds appear when aircraft “break” the sound barrier, they can appear when the planes fly at subsonic speed, in humid air.

The photographs in this post were taken at Leeuwarden by The Aviationist’s Jacek Siminski.

F-35 condensation cloud

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All you need to know about the arrival of the first Dutch F-35s in the Netherlands

The first two F-35s destined to the Royal Netherlands Air Force have arrived in the Netherlands.

On May 23, the first two Dutch F-35A aircraft, AN-1 (F-001) and AN-2 (F-002), have arrived at Leeuwarden air base, in the Netherlands, at the end of the type’s first eastbound transatlantic crossing.

The two aircraft started their journey to Europe from Edwards Air Force Base, California, and crossed the Pond as “NAF 81” (then “Archer 1” and “Archer 2”) after a stopover in Patuxent River, Maryland, supported by two KDC-10s, T-235, using radio callsign “NAF43,” and T-264, “NAF44.”

F-35 RNlAF 3

The two F-35s, piloted by Colonel Bert “Vidal” de Smit and Major Pascal “Smiley” Smaal, were greeted overhead Dundee, Scotland, by a RNlAF Gulfstream G-IV, tail number V-11, with Ministry of Defense Jeanine Hennis, that flew alongside the Joint Strike Fighters until landing.

F-35 RNlAF

A number of F-16s supported the crossing as well: two single-seat F-16AMs were deployed to Keflavik, Iceland, to support the F-35s, whereas two two-seater F-16BMs (J-065 “SLAMMER 01” and J-066 “SLAMMER 02”) flew as camera-ships to take some cool air-to-air pictures of the unusual formation of Joint Strike Fighters, G-IV and KC-10s (the latter ones landed at Eindhoven).

Aboard one of those F-16BMs was photographer Frank Crébas from Bluelifeaviation.com who took the aerial photographs that you can find in this post.

F-35 RNlAF 2

On the ground, waiting for the arrival of the two brand new F-35s along with nearly 2,000 base members, dignitaries and media, was Crébas’s buddy at Bluelifeaviation, journalist Stephan de Bruijn, who also took some shots of the F-35s conducting a flyby before coming to a full stop landing at Leeuwarden.

F-35 RNlAF 5

F-35A arrival, Leeuwarden 20160523 (Stephan de Bruijn) (2)

Noteworthy, the arrival of the first RNlAF F-35s was very well advertised by the Dutch MoD that provided constant updates, details of the crossing and also streamed the event live on Youtube (as opposed to the Italian MoD that almost took the type’s very first and second transatlantic crossings, conducted by F-35s assembled in Italy, confidential….).

F-35A arrival, Leeuwarden 20160523 (Stephan de Bruijn) (6)

According to Lockheed Martin, over the next few weeks, the Dutch F-35As will conduct both aerial and ground environmental noise tests, perform flights over the North Sea range and then appear and fly at the Netherlands’ Open Days, the largest air show held annually in the Netherlands.

F-35A arrival, Leeuwarden 20160523 (Stephan de Bruijn) (9)

During the next three years as the Netherlands prepares for a total of 37 aircraft permanently based starting with Leeuwarden in 2019 and then Volkel Air Base in 2021.

H/T @FMCNL for the details about the flight. Image credit: Stephan de Bruijn and Frank Crébas / Bluelifeaviation.com

 

The Italian Air Force has successfully accomplished the F-35’s first transatlantic crossing

The Italian Air Force made the history by successfully accomplishing the F-35’s first transatlantic crossing.

On Feb. 5, the first Italian Air Force F-35, the first JSF built outside the U.S., landed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Mariland, at the end of a 7-hour transatlantic flight from Lajes Air Base, in Portugal.

The aircraft, dubbed AL-1 and serialled MM7332 departed from Cameri on Feb. 3 and was scheduled to land in the U.S. on the following day but the trip was delayed due to strong winds over the Atlantic Ocean.

The aircraft was piloted by one of the two ItAF pilots who successfully completed the training at Luke AFB last year.

F-35 ground

F-35 left side

The aircraft arrived at Pax River, where it will be involved in testing activities before moving to Luke Air Force Base, was accompanied by two KC-767 tankers, two C-130Js for logistical and SAR support, and one two-seater Eurofighter Typhoon acting as chase plane. One of F-2000B remained at Lajes as spare, and will wait until all return from the States within a couple of days (except for the JSF).

C-130J

Typhoon B

Typhoon B 2

The pictures in this post show the formation arriving a Lajes: noteworthy, the stopover marked the first landing of an F-35 in Portugal.

Image credit: APS – Associação Portugal Spotters