Tag Archives: Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

NVG video: F-35B Accomplishes First Night Vertical Landing Aboard USS WASP

On Aug. 14, the first DT-II (Developmental Test Phase Two – the second of three planned tests aimed at expanding the F-35B’s shipboard operating envelope for the U.S. Marine Corps) night vertical landing was executed by F-35 Marine Corps test pilot, Lt. Col. C.R. “Jimi” Clift. Clift, a Harrier pilot.

The F-35B is the STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) of the JSF, destined to replace all the USMC assets, including the Harrier jump jet and the F/A-18 Hornet.

Image credit: U.S. Marine Corps

 

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This is how Japanese see their future air war against China over Senkaku Islands. With new stealth planes

Even if they are promotional material aimed to support a recently released book, the videos in this post are particularly interesting as they show how the Japanese see their future air-sea battle scenario.

Obviously, China is perceived as the main (only?) enemy and the Senkaku Islands (also known as Diaoyu Islands in China) is where Japanese foresee the close encounter with Beijing carrier battle group‘s J-15s.

Noteworthy, whereas Chinese planes featured in the video are current ones (there’s no trace of J-20s or J-31s), Japanese fighter jets are mainly new F-3s (whose development is not to start before 2016-17) namely F-3As and delta-wing F-3Es.

Some footage also features several F-35Cs embarked on a Japanese aircraft carrier.

Although it does not seem to be an official Japan Air Self Defense Force product, the CGI footage seems to support Japan’s current nationalist instinct and fits with the Abe government’s path to rearming.
Nothing more than a cartoon then. At least for the moment.

Written with David Cenciotti

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A-7 Corsair II and the VAL program: how a multiservice aircraft should be developed

There are several examples of combat aircraft that were born with the aim to serve in two or three different services of the same nation in aviation history.

Usually, these programs face many problems before they reach their full operational capability and they struggle to satisfy the different customers who put them into service.

This rule is confirmed by the last of these aircraft, the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) which generated the three different versions of the F-35, as well as an older program, the Tactical Fighter Experimental (TFX), with the USAF F-111A and the US Navy F-111B.

And while the Lightning II is eventually entering the active service in spite of several issues, the F-111 survived only in the A variant while the F-111B, destined to the U.S. Navy, was cancelled.

But among all these programs there has been also a huge success: the so called VAL (with V meaning for heavier than air; A attack; L light) from which the Vought A-7 Corsair was born.

National Naval Aviation Museum FB page

Originally, the VAL was a 1962 joint service program for the development of an advanced light attack aircraft involving USAF, U.S. Army and U.S. Navy.

However the Air Force preferred using its existing fighters for light attack and for close air support and suspended its sustainment to the development of the program.

So the Corsair II became the result of a Navy’s specific requirement to replace the older light attack aircraft such as the AD Skyraider and the A-4 Skyhawk.

Only in 1965 USAF rejoined to the program, developing its all weather version of the Corsair II, the A-7D. This version included advanced flight and navigation displays, one of the first digital computer and also an inertial navigation system. Indeed the A-7D had a truly advanced avionics: it embedded some sophisticated systems, including  the CCIP, the Continuosly Computed Impact Point that gave a real time computation of the weapon release point.

Along with the CCIP there was also the CCRP, the Continuosly Computed Release Point which would automatically deliver the weapon on the target point.

The A-7D  also introduced the BFL, acronym of Bomb Fall Line which showed a “X” on the HUD indicating where the weapon would have hit if the pilot delivered the weapon at that moment.

All these tools were a great help for the development of the Navy A-7E and thanks to the Air Force introduction in the program the Naval Aviation was able to realize its own version of the Corsair II with real all weather attack capabilities.

However the A-7 wasn’t such a revolutionary aircraft like the F-35 is intended to be: in fact the Corsair II was a low risk project since its airframe was similar to the F-8 and was also simpler than the Crusader one.

Still, the last of the Vought naval aircraft achieved some impressive milestones such as accomplishing its first flight on Sept. 27, 1965 ahead of the schedule and the first training example of the aircraft was delivered to the Navy in November 1966.

National Naval Aviation Museum FB page.jpg 2

All images: Naval Aviation Museum FB page

The A-7 didn’t face high cost overruns and the airplane was also able to respect the maintainability requirement with only 17 maintenance man-hours per flight hour.

Nevertheless the A-7D/Es were some of the first combat aircraft to be equipped with the Head Up Display.

Thanks to the help that every service gave each other, the Corsair II was able to satisfy its customers and become an attack platform with capabilities which they didn’t have anywhere else.

Maybe the story of the A-7 should guide the Joint Strike Fighter: a program not only affected by schedule slippage and cost overruns but that also a plane that risks to fail to meet some of its customers’ requirements.

 

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[Photo] F-35A on final at Nellis Air Force Base

Since there are not many F-35 flying around the world, any “unofficial” picture of the much maligned fifth generation stealth fighter plane is extremely interesting.

The one above was taken by Alan Sondak at Nellis Air Force last week and shows one of the local-based Joint Strike Fighters about to land on runway 03R at the airbase located just outside Las Vegas, Nevada.

In the meanwhile, testing activities go ahead.

An F-35A Joint Strike Fighter flying just under the speed of sound dropped a 2,000-pound GBU-31 guided bomb from 10,000 feet on Jul. 1 at Edwards Air Force Base, California; a test whose aim was to verify whether the bomb would properly separate from the the aircraft flying in a tactical environment and a little step toward full-rate production…

Image credit: Alan Sondak via T. Lovelock

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[Photo] F-35B head-on during aerial refueling from a KC-10

Taken by Dane Wiedmann and released by Code One magazine, this interesting photo shows USMC test pilot Lt. Col. Patrick Moran, flying F-35B BF-2, as he performs aerial refueling tests off of a U.S. Air Force KC-10 on Jun. 25, 2013.

F-35B aerial refueling

Image credit: Dane Wiedmann via LM

So far, the majority of the images of the F-35 being refueled came from the typical point of view of the KC-135 boom operator.

This image was taken by a KC-10 equipped with a hose (in place of the flying boom) hence the interesting perspective on the stealth plane.

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