The Navy’s F-35C has kicked off the second phase of Developmental Testing at sea.
On Oct. 2, U.S. Navy test pilots Cmdr. Tony “Brick” Wilson and LT Chris “TJ” Karapostoles landed F-35C test aircraft CF-03 and CF-05 aboard USS Eisenhower (CVN 69) off the coast of the eastern United States.
F-35C test pilots and engineers from the F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Patuxent River, Maryland, that has already conducted DT-I on the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) from Nov. 3 to 14, 2014, will remain aboard “IKE” until Oct. 15 testing JSF carrier suitability and integration in the at-sea environment.
The test team will achieve this objective through a series of test events designed to gradually expand the aircraft operating envelope at sea. In fact, during DT-II, the F-35C will perform a variety of operational maneuvers, such as catapult take offs and arresting landings, while simulating maintenance operations and conducting general maintenance and fit tests for the aircraft and support equipment.
DT-II is the second of three at sea test phases planned for the F-35C: indeed, as any other naval aircraft the Lightning II undergoes DT-I, -II, and –III test phases. After the end of each Developmental Testing phase, the team conduct an assessment of the F-35C’s performance in the shipboard environment before advising the Navy on any adjustments necessary to ensure that the fifth generation fighter is ready to meet its scheduled initial operational capability in 2018.
As this video shows, cold and wet weather did not prevent the test team from operating the two Lightning IIs aboard the USS Eisenhower.
Lockheed Martin rolled out the first F-35A for Norway at its JSF production facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
On Sept. 22, Lockheed Martin rolled out the first Norwegian F-35.
The aircraft, designated AM-1, represents an important production milestone for both the F-35 program and the Norwegian Armed Forces, where 52 Lightning IIs are expected to replace the Royal Norwegian Air Force ageing F-16s, bringing the country national defense into a new era.
Norwegian Minister of Defense, Her Excellency Ine Eriksen Søreide, who was the guest of honor at the event, remarked the importance of the Lightning II for the future of Norwegian Armed Forces. She pointed out in fact that, being a 5th generation aircraft, the F-35 is the only platform able to give Norway the capabilities to face future surface and airborne threats.
Furthermore, the partnership to the F-35 program will also provide the country with high technology work, ensuring the future health, competitiveness and viability of the defense industry in Norway.
AM-1 will be joined soon by Norway’s second jet, known as AM-2, which is scheduled to be delivered to the Royal Norwegian Air Force later this year.
The two F-35s will be based at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, where they will be used for Norwegian and partner country pilot training.
As already explained several times on The Aviationist, the F-104 represented a huge leap forward for all those countries that passed from old subsonic to a bisonic jet which called for a much greater concentration on the part of pilots who were often faced with split second decisions.
The transition from the previous generation of aircraft to the high performances of the F-104 was often far from painless and that’s why some of the Starfighter‘s users were beset by numerous tragic accidents.
Although the majority of such incidents were caused by human factor or poor weather conditions or because the aircraft was pushed to its limits rather than by plane failures, the “Zipper”, as it was nicknamed in the fighter pilots community, was nonetheless undeservedly dubbed the “widow maker” by the public opinion.
An epithet that was firmly rejected by most pilots who loved the F-104 and its stunning performance.
Anyway, here is a video of a “Zipper” flying dangerously low. According to the comments on the Youtube page it was filmed in the early 1980s at Volkel airbase, in the Netherlands, and shows a Royal Netherlands Air Force F-104 buzzing spotters during an Open Day.
The U.S. Air Force has released the report and photos of the mishap suffered by an F-35A Lightning II in June 2014.
A U.S. Air Force Air Education and Training Command (AETC) Investigation Board team has completed the investigation into the mishap occurred to an F-35A assigned to the 58th Fighter Squadron, 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, on Jun. 23, 2014.
According to the report, the F-35A suffered a failure of the third-stage rotor of the engine fan module. The aircraft was taking off for a training mission when the engine caught fire: the pilot safely aborted the takeoff and exited the aircraft.
Although emergency crews responded to the burning aircraft and extinguished the fire, the F-35A was heavily damaged: “Pieces of the failed rotor arm cut through the engine’s fan case, the engine bay, an internal fuel tank, and hydraulic and fuel lines before exiting through the aircraft’s upper fuselage. Damage from the engine failure caused leaking fuel and hydraulic fluid to ignite and burn the rear two thirds of the aircraft. The total mishap damage is estimated to be in excess $50 million.”