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Thread: What is up with the F-35? Part II

  1. #1576
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    F-35 pilot: Here's what people don't understand about dogfighting, and how the F-35 excels at it
    Alex Lockie
    Business Insider
    January 4, 2017


    Since 2001, Lockheed Martin and US military planners have been putting together the F-35, a new aircraft that promises to revolutionize aerial combat so thoroughly as to leave it unrecognizable to the general public.

    Detractors of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter have long criticized the program as taking too long and costing too much, though overruns commonly occur when developing massive, first-in-class projects like the F-35.

    But perhaps the most damning criticism of the F-35 came from a 2015 assessment that F-16s, first fielded in the 1970s, had handily defeated a group of F-35s in mock dogfight tests.

    According to Lt. Col. David "Chip" Berke, the only US Marine to fly both the F-22 and the F-35, the public has a lot of learning to do when assessing a jet's capability in warfare.

    "The whole concept of dogfighting is so misunderstood and taken out of context," Berke said in an interview with Business Insider. "We need to do a better job teaching the public how to assess a jet's capability in warfare."

    "There is some idea that when we talk about dogfighting it's one airplane's ability to get another airplane's 6 and shoot it with a gun ... That hasn't happened with American planes in maybe 40 years," Berke said.

    "Everybody that's flown a fighter in the last 25 years — we all watched 'Top Gun,'" said Berke, referring to the 1986 film in which US Navy pilots take on Russian-made MiGs.

    But planes don't fight like that anymore, and comparing different planes' statistics on paper and trying to calculate or simulate which plane can get behind the other is "kind of an arcane way of looking at it," Berke said.

    Unlike older planes immortalized in films, the F-35 doesn't need to face its adversary to destroy it. The F-35 can fire "off boresight," virtually eliminating the need to jockey for position behind an enemy.

    The F-35 can take out a plane miles beyond visual range. It can pass targeting information to another platform, like a drone or a US Navy destroyer, and down a target without even firing a shot.

    While US Air Force pilots do train for classic, World War II-era dogfights, and while the F-35 holds its own and can maneuver just as well as fourth-generation planes, dogfights just aren't that important anymore.

    Berke said dogfighting would teach pilots "great skill sets" but said conflict within visual range "doesn't always mean a turning fight within 100 feet of the other guy maneuvering for each other's 6 o'clock." Berke also made an important distinction that conflicts within visual range do not always become dogfights.

    Also, "within visual range" is a tricky term.

    "You could not see a guy who's a mile away, or you could see a guy at 15 miles if you got lucky," Berke said, adding that with today's all-aspect weapons systems, a plane can "be effective in a visual fight from offensive, defensive, and neutral positions."

    "We need to stop judging a fighter's ability based on wing loading and Gs," Berke said of analysts who prize specifications on paper over pilots' insights.

    Furthermore, Berke, who has several thousand flying hours in four different airplanes, both fourth and fifth generation, stressed that pilots train to negate or avoid conflicts within visual range — and he said no plane did that better than the F-35.

    Even in the F-22 Raptor, the world's most lethal combat plane in within-visual-range conflicts and beyond, Berke said he'd avoid a close-up fight.

    "Just because I knew I could outmaneuver an enemy, my objective wouldn't be to get in a turning fight and kill him," Berke said.

    Though it might be news to fans of "Top Gun" and the gritty, "Star Wars"-style air-to-air combat depicted in TV and films, the idea of a "dogfight" long ago faded from relevance in the world of aerial combat.

    A newer, less sexy term has risen to take its place: situational awareness. And the F-35 has it in spades. Link
    Far better it is to dare mighty things, than to take rank with those poor, timid spirits who know neither victory nor defeat ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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    http://www.dodbuzz.com/2017/01/03/ma...ticized-trump/

    Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told the Hartford Courant newspaper that Mattis gave a “clear commitment” to the continuation of the F-35 program despite Trump’s repeated criticism of its huge costs and questionable performance thus far.

    In an earlier statement, Blumenthal said of his meeting with Mattis, “I was encouraged by his clear commitment to American air superiority and the important role of the F-35 program in sustaining and enhancing it.”

    United Technologies Corp., which has headquarters in Hartford, supplies the engines for the Lockheed Martin Corp.-made F-35 and thousands of jobs in Connecticut are dependent on continuation of the program.
    Not really a surprise as the Marines are all in on the F-35B at this point.

  3. #1578
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    Quote Originally Posted by TopHatter View Post
    F-35 pilot: Here's what people don't understand about dogfighting, and how the F-35 excels at it
    Alex Lockie
    Business Insider
    January 4, 2017


    Since 2001, Lockheed Martin and US military planners have been putting together the F-35, a new aircraft that promises to revolutionize aerial combat so thoroughly as to leave it unrecognizable to the general public.

    Detractors of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter have long criticized the program as taking too long and costing too much, though overruns commonly occur when developing massive, first-in-class projects like the F-35.

    But perhaps the most damning criticism of the F-35 came from a 2015 assessment that F-16s, first fielded in the 1970s, had handily defeated a group of F-35s in mock dogfight tests.

    According to Lt. Col. David "Chip" Berke, the only US Marine to fly both the F-22 and the F-35, the public has a lot of learning to do when assessing a jet's capability in warfare.

    "The whole concept of dogfighting is so misunderstood and taken out of context," Berke said in an interview with Business Insider. "We need to do a better job teaching the public how to assess a jet's capability in warfare."

    "There is some idea that when we talk about dogfighting it's one airplane's ability to get another airplane's 6 and shoot it with a gun ... That hasn't happened with American planes in maybe 40 years," Berke said.

    "Everybody that's flown a fighter in the last 25 years — we all watched 'Top Gun,'" said Berke, referring to the 1986 film in which US Navy pilots take on Russian-made MiGs.

    But planes don't fight like that anymore, and comparing different planes' statistics on paper and trying to calculate or simulate which plane can get behind the other is "kind of an arcane way of looking at it," Berke said.

    Unlike older planes immortalized in films, the F-35 doesn't need to face its adversary to destroy it. The F-35 can fire "off boresight," virtually eliminating the need to jockey for position behind an enemy.

    The F-35 can take out a plane miles beyond visual range. It can pass targeting information to another platform, like a drone or a US Navy destroyer, and down a target without even firing a shot.

    While US Air Force pilots do train for classic, World War II-era dogfights, and while the F-35 holds its own and can maneuver just as well as fourth-generation planes, dogfights just aren't that important anymore.

    Berke said dogfighting would teach pilots "great skill sets" but said conflict within visual range "doesn't always mean a turning fight within 100 feet of the other guy maneuvering for each other's 6 o'clock." Berke also made an important distinction that conflicts within visual range do not always become dogfights.

    Also, "within visual range" is a tricky term.

    "You could not see a guy who's a mile away, or you could see a guy at 15 miles if you got lucky," Berke said, adding that with today's all-aspect weapons systems, a plane can "be effective in a visual fight from offensive, defensive, and neutral positions."

    "We need to stop judging a fighter's ability based on wing loading and Gs," Berke said of analysts who prize specifications on paper over pilots' insights.

    Furthermore, Berke, who has several thousand flying hours in four different airplanes, both fourth and fifth generation, stressed that pilots train to negate or avoid conflicts within visual range — and he said no plane did that better than the F-35.

    Even in the F-22 Raptor, the world's most lethal combat plane in within-visual-range conflicts and beyond, Berke said he'd avoid a close-up fight.

    "Just because I knew I could outmaneuver an enemy, my objective wouldn't be to get in a turning fight and kill him," Berke said.

    Though it might be news to fans of "Top Gun" and the gritty, "Star Wars"-style air-to-air combat depicted in TV and films, the idea of a "dogfight" long ago faded from relevance in the world of aerial combat.

    A newer, less sexy term has risen to take its place: situational awareness. And the F-35 has it in spades. Link
    The biggest offender has got to be Star Wars.

    We have Tie-Fighters and X-Wings which can travel at the speed of light but still have to get on someone's six to shoot it down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TopHatter View Post
    [B][SIZE=4]
    Unlike older planes immortalized in films, the F-35 doesn't need to face its adversary to destroy it. The F-35 can fire "off boresight," virtually eliminating the need to jockey for position behind an enemy.
    *coff* helmet mounted sights on the Mig-29 since 1990ish and more on other modern fighters*coff*

    But yeah, I get what the author says. And Top Gun is guilty of a lot of missconceptions. That tight formation with 2 fighters almost one on top of the other, the "not leave the wingman" no matter what... /sigh...

    Quote Originally Posted by YellowFever View Post
    The biggest offender has got to be Star Wars.
    We have Tie-Fighters and X-Wings which can travel at the speed of light but still have to get on someone's six to shoot it down.
    Speak no evil of Star Wars! :O

    Besides, it's Star Wars. Star Trek is worse, you have space cruisers manouvering like WWII torpedo boats to line up shots...

    For a bit(ish) of real space fight, check Babylon 5. Fighters with spin around to shoot, while still going the original course...

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    Quote Originally Posted by YellowFever View Post
    The biggest offender has got to be Star Wars.

    We have Tie-Fighters and X-Wings which can travel at the speed of light but still have to get on someone's six to shoot it down.
    One thing that always bothered me in Star Wars is the fact that the little 1 man fighters can all jump to hyperspace.

    If that's the case, why bother with ships like Star Destroyers acting as carriers at all? Just have 5,000 ground based Tie-Fighters from any Empire planet in the sector jump to wherever the Rebel Scum show their faces.

    If F-35s could arrive at any destination on Earth in a matter of minutes ready to fight, there's no way we'd send them to sea on Carriers or Amphibs. They'd all be based smack in the center of the US, probably next to the B-2s in Missouri!

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    anyone know the validity of the linked article?

    http://www.businessinsider.com/expen...-to-fix-2017-1

    'The Pentagon has established a "red team" to address considerable shortcomings with the F-35C, the carrier-based naval variant of the most expensive weapons project in history.

    The F-35, subject to cost overruns and delays throughout its production, reached an initial state of military readiness with its Air Force and Marine variants in 2016, but the Navy's variant lags behind in part due to an issue with its nose gear during catapult-assisted takeoffs from aircraft carriers, Inside Defense uncovered on Wednesday.

    Essentially the problem, detailed in a Navy report with data dating back to 2014, deals with rough takeoffs that hurt and disorient pilots at the critical moment when they're taking off from a carrier.

    The Pentagon's red team found the problem was due to several factors central to the plane's design, and recommended several fixes that will take several months to several years to fully fix. The report states that long term actions to address the problem will not take place until 2019, at which point they'll take 12-36 months to implement.

    Redesigns to the plane, as well as to carriers, may be necessary to fully address the problem.

    A Pentagon deficiency report in 2015 stated that extreme movements in the cockpit during launch risked pilot health.

    One hundred and five pilots completing catapult launches rated their level of pain or discomfort on a scale of one to five. Of the 105, 74 pilots reported "moderate" pain or a 3, 18 pilots reported "severe" pain or a 4, and one pilot reported "severe pain that persists" after launching from an aircraft carrier.

    "The oscillations shake the pilot's head sufficiently to impair their ability to consistently read flight critical data, which poses a safety of flight risk," reads the report cited by Inside Defense.

    This pain, more than a mere inconvenience, threatens the ability of pilots to read flight-critical data as they perform the complicated task of launching from a moving platform at sea. Exasperating the problem, some pilots locked down their harnesses to avoid jostling around during the launch, but this makes it more difficult for the pilot to eject, should they need to.

    At a roundtable discussion in December, F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan assured reporters that F-35C takeoff problems only occur when the planes takeoff with low weight load outs, saying " you don't see this problem at all" when the plane is more laden with ordnance or fuel.

    A representative from Lockheed Martin told Business Insider that all the catapult launches they had monitored were successful.

    The F-35C was the most expensive variant of the Joint Strike Fighter program for the most recent Low Rate Initial Production contract. The Navy currently operates aging F-18s, nine of which have crashed or majorly malfunctioned in the last six months of 2016. The Aviationist's David Cenciotti attributes this to the age of the planes

    Meanwhile, the Navy awaits the F-35C's groundbreaking capability as other world powers invest heavily in their naval and anti-ship capabilities. President-elect Trump has expressed interest in building dozens of new ships, taking the US Navy's total from 272 to 350 operational ships, as well as confronting China in the heavily militarized South China Sea.

    F-35 pilots have told Business Insider that the F-35s stealth characteristics make it absolutely vital to operating in heavily contested airspace like the South China Sea, the Baltics, and lately Syria.

    Lockheed Martin told Business Insider that it will look into the Inside Defense report. This post will be updated with the company's future comment.
    '

    would seem like its more an issue with the launch system than the aircraft?

  7. #1582
    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bfng3569 View Post
    One hundred and five pilots completing catapult launches rated their level of pain or discomfort on a scale of one to five. Of the 105, 74 pilots reported "moderate" pain or a 3, 18 pilots reported "severe" pain or a 4, and one pilot reported "severe pain that persists" after launching from an aircraft carrier.

    "The oscillations shake the pilot's head sufficiently to impair their ability to consistently read flight critical data, which poses a safety of flight risk," reads the report cited by Inside Defense.
    I wish they'd included some context. A survey showing that being violently catapulted off a ship causes pain/discomfort isn't exactly a huge revelation. I'd be more concerned if they were able to show that catting in an F-35 causes substantially more pain/discomfort than catting in a Hornet/Shornet. My hunch is that they all hurt, and that's part of the reason flying fighters off carriers is a young man's game.

    The oscillation motion on launch certainly doesn't appear to be something unique to the F-35.



    I figure Bogdan has the right of it, and it's something unique to catting while very lightly loaded in testing. I can't imagine that scenario will come up much in practice however. NATOPS has pretty stringent requirements regarding minimum fuel levels.
    Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 05 Jan 17, at 15:10.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    I wish they'd included some context. A survey showing that being violently catapulted off a ship causes pain/discomfort isn't exactly a huge revelation. I'd be more concerned if they were able to show that catting in an F-35 causes substantially more pain/discomfort than catting in a Hornet/Shornet. My hunch is that they all hurt, and that's part of the reason flying fighters off carriers is a young man's game.
    One question on this: pain where? I do remember there were some issues with the new helmet for the F-35 being overweight. If the pain is on the neck/spine, may not the combination heavy helmet+Gs+catapult be causing this?

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    Quote Originally Posted by YellowFever View Post
    The biggest offender has got to be Star Wars.

    We have Tie-Fighters and X-Wings which can travel at the speed of light but still have to get on someone's six to shoot it down.
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    One thing that always bothered me in Star Wars is the fact that the little 1 man fighters can all jump to hyperspace.

    If that's the case, why bother with ships like Star Destroyers acting as carriers at all? Just have 5,000 ground based Tie-Fighters from any Empire planet in the sector jump to wherever the Rebel Scum show their faces.

    If F-35s could arrive at any destination on Earth in a matter of minutes ready to fight, there's no way we'd send them to sea on Carriers or Amphibs. They'd all be based smack in the center of the US, probably next to the B-2s in Missouri!
    Now we're getting WAY off-topic, but when two of my passions are being discussed in the same thread .. well I cannot help myself.

    Not all starfighters in Star Wars possess a hyperdrive. Most TIE fighters can not enter hyperspace for example, that is why the Empire uses star destroyers as starfighter carriers. The Empire feels that cheap, fast, maneuverable, and expendable starfighters are a better option than expensive more capable ships. Most TIEs do not have shields either. The Rebels had little in the way of capital ships (greater than 100m in length), so they partly leveled the playing field by using very robust and capable starfighters such as the X-Wing.

    These starfighters also have very destructive laser with infinite ammo, so of course then will be their primary weapon, even though they operate line of sight. They also have proton torpedoes and concussion missiles which have off-boresight capability I am sure.

    Ah! I've been outted as a .. NERD!

    I take the Lt. Col's point regarding dogfighting. Not sure if public perception is really that big of an issue, also not sure how to combat the problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JA Boomer View Post
    The Empire feels that cheap, fast, maneuverable, and expendable starfighters are a better option than expensive more capable ships. Most TIEs do not have shields either. The Rebels had little in the way of capital ships (greater than 100m in length), so they partly leveled the playing field by using very robust and capable starfighters such as the X-Wing.
    I've always seen the TIEs as Zeros (light, manouverable, cheap, poorly armed) while the Y/X/B Wings as Wildcats/Hellcats...

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    F-35 pilot: It's 'preposterous' to think an upgraded F-18 could do the F-35's job
    Alex Lockie
    January 5, 2017


    In December, Business Insider interviewed a former US Navy Commander, Chris Harmer, who had a unique idea for an alternative to the F-35.

    Harmer suggested that in 2001, when the F-35 program first came together, military planners simply could have updated existing airframes, like the carrier based F-18, with the advanced avionics and sensor fusion featured in the F-35.

    The article voiced a somewhat contrary opinion and imagined a world where one and a half decades and hundreds of billions of dollars had been spent towards ends other than the F-35.

    It met with swift disapproval from defense aviation writers and members of the F-35 community.

    US Marine Corps Lt. Col David "Chip" Berke, the only Marine in history to fly the F-22 and the F-35, and also the first squadron commander of operational F-35Bs, got in touch with Business Insider as a result of the article.

    Berke insisted that the idea that fourth generation fighters could be upgraded to do what the F-35 does was "preposterous."

    According to Berke, legacy aircraft designed without sensor fusion in mind, planes meant for a bygone era of aerial combat, just couldn't handle the F-35's responsibilities.

    "What we’re really trying to do," with fifth generation aircraft "legacy aircraft can’t do. Even if you could, without low observability capability (stealth), what would be the point?" Berke said.

    Berke has seen first hand the exponential shift in capabilities between fourth and fifth generation aircraft. Berke logged thousands of hours in the F-18 and served two combat tours in Iraq before transitioning to the F-22 and then the F-35.

    He has talked at length about the seismic shift between the two modes of operation, comparing the stark and conceptual differences between the F-18 and an F-35 to the leap between a corded wall phone and an iPhone. Berke and pretty much every single other F-35 program participant on record share this view.

    'The biggest advocates for fifth-generation aircraft are the ones flying them. Take a bunch of pilots who flew fourth gens, and you put them in an F-35 and they say it’s the most important thing. The people that complain the most are the ones that aren’t involved in the program, and that know the least about it," said Berke.

    "These pilots who grew up in the Hornet (F-18), that have thousands of hours of combat experience" find the idea that you could simply update legacy platforms to reach the level of the F-35 "laughable," according to Berke.

    Yet Berke understands where the criticism of the F-35 program comes from. He admits that it's even difficult for F-35 pilots to realize the full scope of the Joint Strike Fighter's revolutionary capabilities, and that building such capabilities took a lot of time and effort, sometimes more than what program directors estimated.

    "Innovation is really hard, expensive, and fraught with criticism. The easiest thing in the world is to criticize innovation," said Berke.

    But given his role as a former commanding officer in an F-35 squadron, Berke has nothing but confidence in the future of US air dominance and the F-35's role in that picture.

    "Dinosaurs look at a new piece of technology and ask: What can this do for me?" said Berke, who sees a generation of young F-35 pilots meeting the groundbreaking technology and saying "what can I do with this technology? What can I do with this airplane?"

    According to Berke, the F-35 program has shown tremendous promise even in its infancy.

    "We don’t even know 50-80% of what this airplane can do," Berke said.
    Far better it is to dare mighty things, than to take rank with those poor, timid spirits who know neither victory nor defeat ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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    Quote Originally Posted by jlvfr View Post
    One question on this: pain where? I do remember there were some issues with the new helmet for the F-35 being overweight. If the pain is on the neck/spine, may not the combination heavy helmet+Gs+catapult be causing this?
    That could be a contributor. The Hornet's DASH Gen III helmet is ~3.6 lbs, while the F-35's Gen II helmet is 5.1 lbs. The F-35's lighter Gen III helmet that started rolling out in November weighs in at 4.6 lbs, although it probably hadn't been introduced when the survey occurred.

    Something that is probably just as important as the weight, is how well that weight is distributed and balanced. I'm no expert, but the F-35 helmet looks far better balanced for aggressive manuvers than these old Apache helmets for example.

    Still as Gen. Bogdan pointed out, it's something that occurred in testing when launching while very lightly loaded. While I could see F-35s taking off from airport runways with just enough fuel for a few touch-and-go landings, I can't think of too many scenarios in which a carrier would be catapulting a fighter with very low fuel levels and no ordnance.

    I don't foresee anyone spending years and millions of dollars to fix such a niche issue either. The easy solution is to just add enough fuel to bring it over the minimum weight needed to stop the oscillation when launching via catapult.

    Think about the stores separation issues the Super Hornet ran into. It was a strike fighter that couldn't drop bombs! But rather than redesign and replace the wings on a bunch that had already been built, they Name:  F-18Cant_zps798098ca.jpg
Views: 153
Size:  26.2 KB to allow for clean separation. Of course that adds a significant drag penalty that keeps the Shornet subsonic when carrying ordnance, but apparently that was seen as an acceptable tradeoff. Adding a notation about minimum required weight to Cat for the F-35 seems like an easy fix that avoids delays or additional spending.
    Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 05 Jan 17, at 20:21.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    That could be a contributor. The Hornet's DASH Gen III helmet is ~3.6 lbs, while the F-35's Gen II helmet is 5.1 lbs. The F-35's lighter Gen III helmet that started rolling out in November weighs in at 4.6 lbs, although it probably hadn't been introduced when the survey occurred.

    Something that is probably just as important as the weight, is how well that weight is distributed and balanced. I'm no expert, but the F-35 helmet looks far better balanced for aggressive manuvers than these old Apache helmets for example.
    Not surprising. Think of the diference of ages and technology involved... not to mention the Apache's was, afaik, prettty much 1st generation (west) helmet mounted sight; many were just "grab a regular helmet, graft a sight"...

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    from The War Zone:

    http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone...e-gear-problem

    More than a decade after the Lockheed Martin F-35 began flight testing, the Navy’s catapult launch and barrier recovery (CATOBAR) variant, the F-35C, remains mired with teething issues. Now, one problem appears to be more debilitating than previously realized, and it’s rearing its head at a critical phase of flight for any Navy fighter—the catapult launch.

    The issue occurs when a lightly loaded F-35C’s landing gear nose strut is compressed while the jet throttles up, right before launch. As the catapult fires and the hold back bar is released, the jet is rapidly pulled forward, during which time the strut oscillates violently up and down. The bouncing continues as the aircraft proceeds down the catapult track at increasing speed.

    The problem was vividly demonstrated among a group of F-35C’s participating in the type’s third set of sea trials aboard the USS George Washington last summer, giving pilots a wild and potentially dangerous ride down the deck.

    The airplane seems to be able to take the hammering, but the pilot sitting over the strut can be severely affected by the ordeal. The movement sends their already-heavy advanced helmet mounted display and oxygen mask flopping up and down, applying pressure to the pilot’s jaw. The erratic oscillations also keep the pilot from being able to read critical info on their helmet-mounted display, an anomaly that can persist sometime after the jet has departed the deck and entered smooth air.

    The issue itself is not new—it has been identified for nearly three years—but Inside Defense has recently learned that the problem is so persistent and potentially detrimental that a red team has been assigned to address it. So far their recommendation is ominous: If fixes cannot be found, the C model’s nose gear should be redesigned altogether.

    The C model is the most expensive of the F-35 clan—costing anywhere from roughly $150 million and $337 million each depending on how you look at it—and it’s the smallest planned production run of the three variants. With the Super Hornet still in production, the Navy never hot on the F-35 idea in the first place, the C model will be the last F-35 to enter service, supposedly in 2019. This date, even if it’s not delayed, is arbitrary in nature—just as the F-35B and A’s initial operational capability dates have been.

    Inside defense quotes a Navy document detailing all the factors that have caused the debilitating situation:

    "The Red Team believes multiple factors are contributing to the problem, including the pilot's seat restraint and hand-hold (grab bar) locations, the mass and center-of-gravity of the F-35 helmet and display unit, the physical characteristics of the nose landing gear strut (load vs. stroke, damping), and the length and release load of the repeatable-release hold-back bar (RRHB)."

    Although catapult launches are already a violent affair, pilots who have been shot off the deck in an F-35C have detailed how disorienting and even painful the whole affair can be.

    During at sea trials in August, fleet pilots from VFA-101 evaluated their experience on the “cat” with the F-35C using a rating system, here is what they found out:

    “After each catapult operation pilots were asked to assess their pain level on a scale from one to five. Out of a total of 105 catapult shots 74 of those caused pilots "moderate pain" or a three rating. 18 catapult shots caused pilots "severe pain" or a four rating. One catapult shot was deemed a five rating or "severe pain that persists" with the pilot suffering from neck pain and a headache, and 12 catapult shots scored a two rating or "mild pain." None of the 105 catapult shots received a one rating of "slight discomfort" or a zero rating of "no discomfort or pain…” The oscillations shake the pilot's head sufficiently to impair their ability to consistently read flight critical data, which poses a safety of flight risk."

    A similar scale of zero to four was used for helmet mounted display readability during each catapult launch. 51 of the launches rated a three where it was difficult viewing anything in the display. Nine received a two rating, where only critical data was able to be viewed. Seven shots received a four rating for not being able to view anything at all inside the helmet mounted display and none got a one or zero rating for being able to easily see all the data or most of the data.

    During testing, pilots have had to lock their harnesses tight for launch—not a safe procedure as it could impair their ability to reach the ejection handle should something go wrong during launch, like a “cold” or underpowered catapult stroke.

    Obviously all of this is a huge problem in a critical phase of flight, and the Navy’s red team, made up of military and industry personnel, realizes this. Short-term, medium-term and long-term actions, or at least requests for action, are supposedly underway. Short-term recommendations include changing how pilots strap themselves into the jet, and how they hold their straps during catapult launches. Not too enticing of a fix, if you are hurtling yourself off the deck of a carrier at 150 miles an hour in a 25 ton machine, at night, over frigid water.

    Medium-term actions include small modifications to the nose gear and HMD symbology, such as simplifying what is displayed in the helmet during catapult launches. These alterations are not set to begin for about another year, after which they will take at least six months to accomplish, and the HMD software may take much longer to change due to the restrictions of the F-35’s already questionable development timeline.

    Long-term actions are not slated to begin until 2019—the same year the jet will supposedly be declared operational—and would take between one and three years to complete. These include changes to the hold-back bar design, and could include alterations to the carrier’s catapult systems themselves to change the amount of compression the nose strut experiences prior to launch. Finally, if these measures don’t fix the problem, a full redesign of the nose gear assembly would be needed. Currently a redesign isn’t being pursued due to development time restraints, and would likely take years to achieve once the process begins. Dramatically retrofitting existing F-35Cs—there will be squadrons in service by that time—would also be a costly affair to say the least

    Since this problem has been an acknowledged issue since 2014, it’s absurd to think that the jet could—and at this point almost definitely would—be declared operational despite such a fundamental flaw. With the F-35 program trying to stick to its timeline and meet goals without asking for another major budget expansion, it seems that major problems are being put off until development has been completed. This completely contradicts the whole purpose of a test and development program, but what else is new in concurrency hell?

    Chalk it up as just one of many unsolved mysteries that continue to plague the Joint Strike Fighter family of jets.

  15. #1590
    Senior Contributor
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    Quote Originally Posted by bfng3569 View Post
    from The War Zone:
    The airplane seems to be able to take the hammering, but the pilot sitting over the strut can be severely affected by the ordeal. The movement sends their already-heavy advanced helmet mounted display and oxygen mask flopping up and down, applying pressure to the pilot’s jaw. The erratic oscillations also keep the pilot from being able to read critical info on their helmet-mounted display, an anomaly that can persist sometime after the jet has departed the deck and entered smooth air.
    Double ouch: hurts and can't see info...

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