Tag Archives: Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

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.

 

“Aircraft Carrier” Documentary Provides Unique Perspective and Insight Into Naval Aviation And F-35 Ops At Sea.

Beautiful Visuals Meet Mechanical Understanding in Aircraft Carrier Documentary. With some cool footage of F-35B and F-35C stealth jets.

Large format filmmaker Stephen Low has taken his IMAX cameras to sea for the filming of his new hour-long documentary Aircraft Carrier. The 43-minute long film premiered at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. in the United States on May 24 and has opened at large format IMAX theaters around the U.S. this week.

We had a chance to preview the film at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan. The Henry Ford, formerly Greenfield Village and The Henry Ford Museum, has a large format IMAX movie theater and sound system. If you haven’t seen one, an IMAX theater is a large format film theater that uses much larger imaging film and screen for higher resolution. It is combined with a more immersive sound system and frequently uses 3-dimensional filmmaking requiring the viewer to wear 3D glasses to see the images correctly and with as increased sense of depth perception.

The Henry Ford Museum also has an impressive collection of historical aircraft including a 1928 Ford 4-AT-B Tri-Motor Airplane, the “Floyd Bennett,” Flown Over the South Pole by Dean Smith as commanded by Richard E. Byrd on Nov. 28, 1929. The museum also houses a Fokker Triplane used on various early arctic expeditions.

Aircraft Carrier was shot mostly on and around the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), a Nimitz-class nuclear powered carrier commissioned in 2003 with a homeport of Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan. She carries a massive crew of over 5,000 personnel in both the air wing on board and for the ship’s crew. The ship itself is over a thousand feet long.

The film and the format work together to communicate a feeling of size and grandeur. The opening scenes are breathtaking and, like any well-made film or documentary, draw the viewer in.

Filmaker Stephen Low operates a large format IMAX film camera (credit: Stephen Low Company)

The IMAX filmmaking crew with their camera helicopter (credit: Stephen Low Company)

There are effectively three themes to Aircraft Carrier. Firstly, there are sweeping visuals that entertain and inspire. Secondly, there are historical insights that add context. The slides used in this segment are excellent. And finally, strong technical graphics that, while probably the weak visual link in the film – especially in large format – do an excellent job of helping the viewer visualize complex systems onboard an aircraft carrier.

Another segment of the film focuses on new F-35C and F-35B operations and the testing and integration of the Joint Strike Fighter into the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines. These sequences are visually remarkable in clarity and composition. When you add the 3D visual effect they have depth and resolution that feel like seeing the flights in person.

A screenshot from Aircraft Carrier showing JSF blue-water ops.

The strength of Aircraft Carrier is that it offers fresh and inspiring imagery for the aircraft enthusiast and a set of basic insights for the non-aircraft enthusiast to remain interested. It’s a good film to take people to who are not aviation experts or enthusiasts, but it is visually exciting enough to keep the aircraft enthusiast interested. Finally, since this is a quick little film at only 43 minutes it is great for young audiences.

Mostly, this is a beautiful and reverent visual and sensory experience that does a better job than any Hollywood movie of showing naval aviation at its most remarkable.

If there is an IMAX theater near you, seek out Aircraft Carrier; you will most certainly enjoy it.

F-35A Apparently Cleared for More Aerobatics During Airshows: New Video Shows A Full Aileron Roll Eventually Added To The Display

Can You Spot What’s New In This F-35A Heritage Flight Demo?

If you are a keen observer of airshow flight demonstration routines then you already know the USAF F-35A has not flown inverted as a part of its demonstration routine during the previous Heritage Flight displays.

Last year at the Aviation Nation airshow at Nellis AFB in Nevada this Author saw F-35A demonstration pilot USAF Major Will Andreotta, call sign “D-Rail”, momentarily approach inverted flight during a pull-out from a high performance pass following the formation flight portion of the Heritage Flight demo. But the F-35A did purposely not fly completely inverted due to administrative restrictions on the aircraft’s demonstration routines.

In the last Heritage Flight of the 2016 airshow season at Nellis AFB this was as close to inverted as the F-35A would fly, close, but not a completely inverted roll. (Image credit: Author)

It would appear some, or perhaps nearly all, of the demonstration flight restrictions have been removed based on this new video of a USAF F-35A Lightning II flying with an F-86 Sabre and a P-38 Lightning during the Heritage Flight demo at the Planes of Fame Airshow in Chino, California on May 6th and 7th 2017.

As you can see in the video, the F-35A does its relatively normal climb out, but then appears to maneuver somewhat more aggressively than was seen in the 2016 demonstration season where “G” load and aerobatic restrictions were imposed.

Most significantly, at the 1:29 point into the video the Heritage Flight formation calls for “break!” and performs its normal horizontal separation. At the final Heritage Flight of the season in 2016 at Nellis AFB the other aircraft in the formation passed one-by-one in review in front of the crowd line and executed a single, slow aileron roll. The F-35A was the only aircraft that did not perform the fully inverted roll, again, likely due to demonstration restrictions at the time.

In this new video, however, at the 1:36 point in the video the F-35 pulls slightly nose-up, then executes a rather smart looking right aileron roll, the first we’ve seen in any Heritage Flight or, for that matter, the first ever USAF F-35A complete aileron roll seen at an airshow.

At 1:36 into this video by Spencer Hughes the F-35 completes a full aileron roll. (screenshot from Spencer Hughes’s YouTube video)

Considered what other combat aircraft can do, an aileron roll is the least the F-35 can do to show a bit of maneuverability.

News outlet Aerospace Daily and Defense Report wrote in a May 17, 2017 story that the F-35A will fly its first aerial demonstration at the Paris Air Show this year, with Lockheed Martin pilots, not U.S. Air Force pilots, performing aerobatics in the skies above Le Bourget Airport.

Aerospace Daily went on to report that the Paris Air Show demonstration by the F-35A “Will showcase the maneuverability of Lockheed’s fifth-generation fighter, and perhaps lay to rest claims that the F-35 cannot match some fourth-generation aircraft in power and performance. The Joint Strike Fighter’s maneuverability was famously called into question in July 2015, when a blogger got his hands on a report in which the aircraft was outclassed by the F-16 in mock aerial combat.”

This new apparent relaxation of flight performance restrictions for the USAF F-35A means the 2017 flight demonstration season will likely be a bit more exciting than ever…

 

Salva

First F-35B Assembled Internationally Rolled Out of Cameri FACO Production Facility

It’s the first F-35B assembled outside of the U.S.

On May. 5, the first F-35B, the Short Take-Off Vertical Landing variant of the the F-35 Lightning II, destined to the Italian Navy, rolled out of the Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility at Cameri, in northwestern Italy.

The aircraft, designated BL-1, is the first F-35B assembled internationally. It is expected to perform its first flight in late August and will be delivered to the Italian MoD in November 2017. After a series of “confidence flights” from Cameri, an Italian pilot will fly the first F-35B jet to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, early in 2018 to conduct required Electromagnetic Environmental Effects certification. The next Italian F-35B aircraft is scheduled for delivery in November 2018.

According to a Lockheed Martin release, besides the first B example, two Italian F-35A aircraft will be delivered from Cameri this year, the first by July and the second in the fourth quarter. To date, seven F-35As have been delivered from the Cameri FACO; four of those jets are now based at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, for international pilot training and three are at Amendola Air Base, near Foggia on the Adriatic coast. With these aircraft based in Italy and flown by the 13° Gruppo, the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) has already flown more than 100 flight hours.

In spite of a very low profile on the subject, Italy has achieved some important results with the F-35.

On Dec. 3, 2015, the ItAF welcomed the first F-35 at the Cameri FACO. That aircraft was also the first assembled and delivered outside the U.S.

On Feb. 5, 2016 the first Italian Air Force F-35, successfully completed the type’s very first transatlantic crossing landing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. On Dec. 12, 2016, the Italian Air Force became the first service to take delivery of the first operational F-35s outside the United States.

“Italy is not only a valued F-35 program partner that has achieved many F-35 program ‘firsts’, but is also a critical NATO air component force, providing advanced airpower for the alliance for the coming decades,” Doug Wilhelm, Lockheed Martin F-35 Program Management vice president, said at the event for the roll out of the first F-35B. “Italian industry has participated in the design of the F-35 and Italian industry made components fly on every production F-35 built to date.”

The Italian FACO, a 101-acre facility including 22 buildings and more than one million square feet of covered work space, housing 11 assembly stations, and five maintenance, repair, overhaul, and upgrade bays, is owned by the Italian Ministry of Defense and is operated by Leonardo in conjunction with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. According to Lockheed, 800 skilled personnel are engaged in full assembly of the Conventional Take-off/Landing F-35A and F-35B aircraft variants and is also producing 835 F-35A full wing sets to support all customers in the program.

The Cameri FACO has the only F-35B production capability outside the United States. It will assemble the 60 Italian F-35As and 30 F-35Bs (for a total of 90 aircraft to be procured by the Italian Air Force and Navy), will build 29 F-35A for the Royal Netherlands Air Force and was selected in December 2014 as the European F-35 airframe Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul and Upgrade center for the entire European region.

In spite of some initial internal criticism and threatened cuts, F-35s will replace the Italian Air Force ageing Tornado and AMX attack planes and the Italian Navy AV-8B aircraft.

Image credit: LM