Tag Archives: Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

Farnborough 2012: Close up view of the mysterious F-35's multimission pod. Did it really carry a gun in February 2012?

Can you remember the first images of the F-35 carrying a white 25 mm gun pod?

I was visiting the booth of Terma, a Danish firm, when I stumbled upon this:

The multimission pod for the F-35 is actually the same white pod carried on the centerline unveiled by the photographs released in February 2012.

The F-35 pod is a full monocoque composite structure in carbon fiber that can be used to expand the JSF’s special mission capabilities, by allowing the plane to fly “Next Generation EW and ISR systems, such as Jammers and EO sensors”as well as an external cannon.

Since, it was engineered and flown in February 2012 I wonder if it actually contained a 25 mm cannon (as Naval Air Systems Command affirmed at the time) when it appeared underneath the F-35 for the first time on Feb. 22.

Indeed, I can’t see any clear sign of a barrel coming out of it in the images available so far. But it may use a new system I don’t know yet or the fact that the pod has low observability features…. :)

Farnborough 2012: This is the most advanced flight helmet, ever. The F-35’s Helmet Mounted Display System

The one depicted in the following pictures is the most adveniristic combat pilot’s flight helmet ever developed.

It is called “HMDS Gen II” and it is produced by Vision Systems International (VSI), the same company that has designed the very well known JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System) worn by all the F-15, F-16, F-18 pilots of the U.S. armed forces and by aircrew of several other nations.

The HMDS Gen. II integrates FLIR (Forward Looking Infra Red) and DAS (Distributed Aperture System) imaging, night vision (without somehow uncomfortable NVGs – Night Vision Goggles) and, above all, a virtual HUD (Head Up Display) into a single helmet that weights less than 5 lb. including all compontents.

The Virtual HUD technology will make the F-35 the first front line combat plane without a “conventional” HUD:  the essential flight and weapon aiming information are project onto a virtual HUD on the visor. Fusing all the information coming from the plane’s sensors along with imagery fed by a set of cameras mounted on the jet’s outer surfaces the system provides the pilot with a X-ray vision-like imagery: he can see in all directions, and through any surface, with his HUD symbology, needed to fly the plane and cue weapons through the line of sight imagery, no matter where the pilot turns his head.

Unlike other technologies, it is not an add-on to an existing helmet: it is a brand new, balanced, composite carbon fiber helmet designer with laser measurements of the pilots’ head. Each pilot will have his own HMDS and not only the U.S. Joint Strike Fighters will have one: each F-35 program nation will use the VSI helmet.

Such an advanced technology is still facing some problems: jitter, latency and decreased night-vision acuity; issues that are currently being solved.

The HMDS Gen. II can be integrated on many current combat planes (even some “competitors” of the F-35) and it was evaluated for the Saab Gripen NG.



Photo: F-35B Joint Strike Fighter test aircraft doing aileron roll with asymmetric weapons load

Taken on Jun. 14, the following image shows the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter test aircraft BF-2, piloted by Cmdr. Eric Buus, flying inverted (most probably doing an aileron roll) with an asymmetric weapons load made of an AIM-9X Sidewinder inert missile on the starboard pylon, a centerline 25 mm gun pod, and a GBU-32 and AIM-120 in the (closed) starboard weapon bay.

While weapons separation testing is scheduled for this summer, weapons testing for both the STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) and Carrier Variant versions are in progress.

Tests include fit checks, captive carriage environment characterization, and pit drops.

Image credit: Lockheed Martin via USMC

Video: First F-35 Carrier Variant night flight. With heavy afterburner usage.

After the first cool images, here’s the video of the F-35C test plane CF-2 during the first night flight on Jun. 13.

As seen when the F-35A made its first night sortie in January, note the green night formation lights, used by combat plane to make formation flying easier after dark.

This is one of the coolest F-35 photos, ever: Carrier Variant first night take off with full afterburner

The following image shows Marine Corps test pilot Lt. Col. Matt Taylor as he ascends in F-35C test aircraft CF-2, on Jun. 13. It was taken at NAS Patuxent River and depicts the first night takeoff for the carrier variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The flight was aimed at evaluating the aircraft’s night lighting system.

Click on the image below to download the high-rez version of the cool photo (3000px).

Image credit: Lockheed Martin via U.S. Navy

And here’s another one, just uploaded by LM on the company’s Flickr photostream.