Tag Archives: Naval Air Station Patuxent River

F-35B In “Third Day Of War” External Weapons Load Configuration Demonstrates Ski Jump Launch in U.S. for Royal Navy.

Check Out This Cool New Video of F-35B Doing Ski Jump Launch Trials for the QE2.

British Aerospace test pilot Peter “Wizzer” Wilson demonstrated the F-35B Lightning II’s capability to launch from a ski-jump style launch ramp during phase 2 testing with a heavy external weapons load last week in a series of capability flights at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.

The Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical) variant was configured in a “third day of war” load-out with heavy external Paveway precision guided bombs and AIM-132 ASRAAM air-to-air missiles in addition to any internal load and the aircraft’s GAU-22A 25mm internal cannon.

The external weapons configuration demonstration (as the one done by the F-35C firing a missile while inverted) is interesting since it includes the broad capability of the F-35B across the entire tactical conflict spectrum. With a “first day of war” configuration the F-35B would likely carry weapons internally to maintain low radar cross-section and observability from sensors. However, as a conflict evolves and enemy air defense assets including sensors, air defense missile and gun systems and enemy aircraft, are degraded by airstrikes from F-35s in the low-observable configuration the environment becomes more permissive. The F-35 no longer relies on low-observable capability for survivability. It can shift to carrying large external loads to accelerate the prosecution of ground targets in an effort to overwhelm an adversary with highly effective precision strikes.

Moreover, as already explained in previous posts on this subject, LO aircraft in un-stealthy configuration because of the external loads achieve stealthiness and can play a different role once their external weapons have been expended.

The F-35B in this series of launch tests is in the “third day of war” external load configuration.

The demonstration highlights the compatibility of the aircraft with the new Queen Elizabeth class of aircraft carriers including the recently commissioned HMS Queen Elizabeth II (RO8) and the upcoming HMS Prince of Wales (RO9) to be commissioned in 2020. Both new carriers use the traditional ski-jump launch ramp as employed on legacy Royal Navy ships and also by the Chinese, Russian and upcoming Indian navy carriers. These aircraft carriers do not yet have, or need, launch catapults.

F-35B Test Pilot Pete “Wizzer” Wilson flew the ramp launch tests. (Photo: Wilts and Glos Standard)

The tests were conducted the week of August 14, 2017 in anticipation of upcoming trials on the HMS Queen Elizabeth II. BAE Systems ski jump project lead test pilot Peter Wilson, a former Royal Navy and Royal Air Force pilot now living in the U.S. during the flight test program, told writer George Allison for the media outlet U.K. Defence Journal that:

“Friday’s F-35B ski jump was a great success for the joint ski jump team. I’m exceptionally proud of this team. Their years of planning, collaboration and training have culminated in a fantastic achievement that advances the future capabilities of the aircraft and its integration into UK operations.”

 

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Take a look at these fantastic photographs of USN aircraft flying over USS Zumwalt advanced guided-missile destroyer

MQ-4C, E-2C, C-2A, P-8A, F-35 and SH-60R flew over USS Zumwalt in Chesapeake

USS Zumwalt, the U.S. Navy’s newest and most technologically advanced surface ship, was commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, on Oct. 15 during the city’s Fleet Week festivities.

First ship of a new class of stealthy multi-mission destroyers (worth $4.4 billion apiece), the futuristic Zumwalt features an advanced power system capable to generate 78 megawatts of power and has the ability to launch TLAMs (Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles) and Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (like those used in Yemen recently), as well as a wide array of other anti-ship and anti-submarine weaponry.

Several aircraft flew over the advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyer as it travelled to its new home port of Sand Diego.

In this post you can find the most interesting photos.

The top one (courtesy of Naval Air Systems Command) is particularly cool. It shows a Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton overflying USS Zumwalt.

U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C “Triton” Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) unmanned aircraft system (UAS), is an ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) platform under development that will complement the P-8A Poseidon within the Navy’s Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force family of systems.

The MQ-4C is a much advanced version than the first generation Global Hawk Block 10: it is believed to be a sort of Block 20 and Block 30 Global Hawk hybrid, carrying Navy payload.

With a 130.9-foot wingspan, the drone features an AN/ZPY-3 multi-function active-sensor (MFAS) radar system, that gives the Triton the ability to cover more than 2.7 million square miles in a single mission that can last as long as 24 hours at a time, at altitudes higher than 10 miles, with an operational range of 8,200 nautical miles.

A test proved the gigantic Navy drone’s ability to pass FMV (Full Motion Video) to a Poseidon MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft) last June.

The U.S. Navy plans to procure 68 aircraft and 2 prototypes.  The program received Milestone C low-rate initial production approval after a successful Milestone Decision Authority review at the end of September 2016.

161017-N-UZ648-029 CHESAPEAKE BAY, Md. (Oct. 17, 2016) An E-2D Hawkeye and a C-2A Greyhound assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 fly over USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship travels to its new home port of San Diego, California. Zumwalt was commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, Oct. 15 and is the first in a three-ship class of the Navy's newest, most technologically advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyers. (U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrandt/Released)

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CHESAPEAKE BAY, Md. (Oct. 17, 2016) An E-2C Hawkeye and a C-2A Greyhound assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 fly over USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship travels to its new home port of San Diego, California. Zumwalt was commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, Oct. 15 and is the first in a three-ship class of the Navy’s newest, most technologically advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyers. (U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrandt/Released)

 

161017-N-UZ648-054 CHESAPEAKE BAY, Md. (Oct. 17, 2016) A P-8A Poseidon assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 flies over USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship travels to its new home port of San Diego, California. Zumwalt was commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, Oct. 15 and is the first in a three-ship class of the Navy's newest, most technologically advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyers. (U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrandt/Released)

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CHESAPEAKE BAY, Md. (Oct. 17, 2016) A P-8A Poseidon assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 flies over USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship travels to its new home port of San Diego, California. Zumwalt was commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, Oct. 15 and is the first in a three-ship class of the Navy’s newest, most technologically advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyers. (U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrandt/Released)

 

161017-N-CE233-334 CHESAPEAKE BAY, Md. (Oct. 17, 2016) An SH-60R assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 flies near USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship travels to its new home port of San Diego, California. Zumwalt was commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, Oct. 15 and is the first in a three-ship class of the Navy's newest, most technologically advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyers. (U.S. Navy photo by Liz Wolter/Released)

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CHESAPEAKE BAY, Md. (Oct. 17, 2016) An SH-60R assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 flies near USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship travels to its new home port of San Diego, California. Zumwalt was commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, Oct. 15 and is the first in a three-ship class of the Navy’s newest, most technologically advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyers. (U.S. Navy photo by Liz Wolter/Released)

 

An F-35 Lightning II Carrier Variant (CV) piloted by U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Robert "Champ" Guyette II, a test pilot from the F-35 Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) assigned to the Salty Dogs of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, flies over the stealth guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship transits the Chesapeake Bay on Oct. 17, 2016. USS Zumwalt, the Navy's newest and most technologically advanced surface ship, joined the fleet Oct. 15. The F-35C Lightning II — a next generation single-seat, single-engine strike fighter that incorporates stealth technologies, defensive avionics, internal and external weapons, and a revolutionary sensor fusion capability — is designed as the U.S. Navy’s first-day-of-war, survivable strike fighter. The U.S. Navy anticipates declaring the F-35C combat-ready in 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Andy Wolfe/Released)

An F-35 Lightning II Carrier Variant (CV) piloted by U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Robert “Champ” Guyette II, a test pilot from the F-35 Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) assigned to the Salty Dogs of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, flies over the stealth guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship transits the Chesapeake Bay on Oct. 17, 2016. USS Zumwalt, the Navy’s newest and most technologically advanced surface ship, joined the fleet Oct. 15. The F-35C Lightning II — a next generation single-seat, single-engine strike fighter that incorporates stealth technologies, defensive avionics, internal and external weapons, and a revolutionary sensor fusion capability — is designed as the U.S. Navy’s first-day-of-war, survivable strike fighter. The U.S. Navy anticipates declaring the F-35C combat-ready in 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Andy Wolfe/Released)

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F-35C carrier variant JSF drops first AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW)

The F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force conducted the first weapons separation test of an AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) from an F-35C.

On Mar. 23, during flight 180 over the NAVAIR Atlantic Test Ranges, Cmdr. Ted Dyckman, a U.S. Navy F-35 test pilot, dropped an inert JSOW from aircraft CF-05 assigned to the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 of the F-35 Lightning II Pax River ITF joint team, aboard Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland.

The test marked the first non-Mk 80 series bomb ever released from an F-35 Lightning II and according to the Navy (highlight mine): “The JSOW safely separated from an internal weapons bay within the F-35C carrier variant, thereby maintaining the stealth characteristics of the aircraft. […] The team will release additional JSOWs throughout 2016. Working on the multi-phase testing of the F-35 Block 3F capabilities, are U.S. government, military and contractor personnel, and industry partners from Raytheon Systems Ltd.”

AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) is the name a family of low-cost, air-to-surface cruise missiles that employ an integrated GPS-INS system and thermal imaging IR seeker.

With an operational range of up to 130 km (when launched from high-altitude), the JSOW has been used in combat during Operation Desert Fox, Operation Southern Watch, NATO Operation Allied Force, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

F-35 arrival at NAS Patuxent River after first transatlantic crossing B-roll and pilot interview

Interesting video with pilot interview provides some interesting details about the F-35’s first transatlantic crossing.

On Feb. 5, the Italian Air Force’s first F-35, dubbed AL-1 and serialled MM7332 (with code “32-01” and markings of the 32° Stormo – Wing)  landed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Mariland, at the end of the JSF’s first ever transatlantic flight.

The aircraft was piloted by one of the two ItAF test pilots, belonging to the Reparto Sperimentale Volo (Test Wing) from Pratica di Mare, who successfully completed the training at Luke AFB in November last year.

The following B-roll (H/T to @JamesDrewNews) shows the aircraft, landing at Pax River along with one of the supporting KC-767s (the F-35 was supported by 2x KC-767s, 2x C-130Js and 2x Typhoons).

After chasing the F-35 for most of its transatlantic flight, the two-seater Typhoon and its own supporting KC-767 landed at Pease ANGB, in New Hampshire, from where they will fly to Nellis AFB, in Nevada, in anticipation of the first participation of the Italian Typhoons to a Red Flag exercise.

Interestingly, the F-35 refueled 7 times from Italy to the U.S. and most of the refueling took place in bad weather: nevertheless, there were no problems nor disconnection as the F-35 is extremely stable (so as the KC-767).

 

US Navy bids farewell to the T-2 Buckeye trainer

On Sep. 25, the venerable T-2 took its final flight at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, ending a 56-year career.

Developed to be used from early flight training right on to carrier indoctrination, the first single engine North American T2J-1 (later designated T-2A) was delivered to the Navy in July 1959.

After 217 T-2As were produced, it was decided that a twin engine version of this trainer would have been more appropriate for the purpose and 97 T-2Bs equipped with two Pratt and Whitney J60 engines were delivered beginning in 1965. The final major version of the Buckeye, the T-2C powered by two General Electric J85s was introduced in 1968 and, overall 231 examples were produced since then. The Buckeye was also sold to Venezuela (that acquired 12 T-2Ds) and to Greece (which bought 40 T-2Es).

The T-2 served the Navy as a two-seat intermediate carrier-capable jet trainer from 1959 until 2008, when it was replaced by the T-45 Goshawk. Three T-2s were retained by Air Test & Evaluation Squadron 20 as chase aircraft for aircraft and weapons testing and they will now be replaced by C-38 Courier business jets.

In the following video you can see a T-2 performing an OFC (Out of Control Flight) training sortie, aimed to provide the student with the fundamental knowledge necessary to recognize, analyse and recover from the loss of aerodynamic control of the aircraft.

This footage leaves no doubts: the T-2 was a terrific spin trainer.