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What is up with the F-35? Part II

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  • Excellent video providing a history and capabilities of the F-35

    "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


    • Final report of that F-35 ramp strike. Pilot error.


      • Originally posted by tbm3fan View Post
        Final report of that F-35 ramp strike. Pilot error.
        I wonder if said pilot had much Hornet sticktime or was a Nugget straight out of Flight School to the Fleet and F-35s.
        “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
        Mark Twain


        • Out of curiosity does this kind of incident normally nix a navy pilots career?
          If you are emotionally invested in 'believing' something is true you have lost the ability to tell if it is true.


          • Originally posted by Monash View Post
            Out of curiosity does this kind of incident normally nix a navy pilots career?
            This mishap was the result of pilot error. The mishap pilot (MP) attempted an expedited recovery breaking overhead the carrier, an approved and common maneuver, but the MP had never performed this maneuver before and it reduced the amount of time to configure the aircraft and conduct landing checks. Asa resultof the compressed timeline and the MP's lack of familiarity with the maneuver, the MP lost situational awareness and failed to complete his landing checklist. Specifically, the MP remained in manual mode when he should have been (and thought he was) in an automated command mode designed to reduce pilot workload during landings.

            Before the Mishap Flight (MF), the MP had never initiated an expedited recovery from overhead the ship. On 24 January, it was his first attempt. The MP was a previous Top-5 Nugget and a Top-10 ball-flyer within CVW-2, indicating that his landing performance at the ship had been exceptional for a first-tour junior officer (JO). [Encl 7, 24] 80.

            The MP discussed the proper execution of an expedited recovery with other members of his squadron. The MP wanted to try a “benign first attempt” at breaking overhead the ship. The MP explained that other JOs had performed the maneuver overhead the ship and he wanted to attempt it before the end of deployment. The MP described hearing from CVW-2 LSOs that an expedited recovery can reduce open deck times, but he did not feel pressure to perform an expedited recovery on 24 January from the CVW-2 LSOs or anyone else.

            __________________________________________________ __________________________________

            Unlike other mishaps this was an incredibly expensive mishap that the Navy says is close to $120 million. According to Ward this pilot will not be flying again for the Navy.


            • In Utah, one airman’s trashed F-35 is another’s training aid

              HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah—Call it the “Island of Misfit Toys.”

              Tucked away in a beige, concrete workshop at the 388th Maintenance Group here, the remnants of trashed F-35 Lightning II fighter jets are getting a second wind.

              Airmen are turning unflyable aircraft into training assets for F-35 maintainers who would otherwise have to learn those lessons on an operational jet or a computer. The master sergeant in charge argues it’s saving the Air Force millions of dollars — and it’s fun, too.

              A reassembled F-35A airframe is hoisted during a new crash recovery training course Sept. 13, 2022, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The course included 29 maintainers from across the U.S. and partner nations' F-35 programs.

              Salvaging planes has become a pet project for Master Sgt. Andrew Wilkow, a maintainer with the 372nd Training Squadron. Rehabbing the wrecks is one of his full-time jobs, after a career of repairing battle damage and overhauling jets at maintenance depots.

              Right now, he’s working on the beaten-up cockpit of a Marine Corps F-35B that crashed near Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, in 2018. A Pratt & Whitney F135 engine that was salvaged from a 2020 mishap at Eglin AFB, Florida, sits nearby.

              The idea started in 2020, when Wilkow helped the F-35 Joint Program Office reattach a jet’s wings — a process for which the program had no blueprint. That aircraft caught fire upon takeoff at Eglin in 2014.

              Hill figured out a way to stick the wings back on, and later used the fuselage to train F-35 crew chiefs and maintainers in repairing combat damage. Then an acquaintance at the program office wanted to repay the favor.

              “[He] said, ‘Hey, I’ve got some crashed jet parts. Do you want those?’” Wilkow said. “That turned into … ‘Well, what can’t I have?’”

              Wilkow has taken in carcasses from three other F-35s since then.

              After an F-35A from Luke AFB, Arizona, caught fire in 2016, Wilkow had it sawed in half so maintainers could tinker with the inside of a real jet. The F135 engine from the 2020 Eglin mishap, and the 25 mm GAU-22/A four-barrel Gatling gun from the same plane, will be static displays where airmen can learn how to inspect the hardware.

              Teaching airmen to use a borescope, a tool that lets mechanics look through tiny holes, is particularly important for catching internal troubles that could cause an engine to malfunction.

              The Marine Corps cockpit should be ready in November to teach people about landing gears, avionics and more, Wilkow said. That process involves steps like removing contaminants, softening sharp edges, fabricating new panels and other broken components, and attaching a new canopy.

              He plans to install a computer into the cockpit so airmen can see the same training cues as they would get at a desk, without sending the jet back to a private company. Dumpster diving turns up other parts that can come in handy for free.

              “These airplanes cost so much money [that] with a mishap, it’s a loss,” he said. “But for maintenance, it doesn’t have to be. … We can turn something that was garbage into something that you never had.”

              Maintainers typically learn about their aircraft using operational jets, which means units have to choose between keeping planes on the ground or delaying their own training.

              And plenty is off-limits for those planes: You can’t “lift an operational jet with a crane, collapse the front landing gear and then set the nose of the aircraft on the ground without significant risk of damaging it,” Wilkow said in a release last year.

              Those involved in refurbishing the F-35s hope they’ll become a key part of new coursework to train airmen faster, particularly as the Air Force looks to merge some maintenance specialties and rebuild that workforce.

              An exodus of more experienced mechanics led to thousands of vacant repair jobs, which the Air Force has fought to refill. Now, Wilkow hopes his salvaged planes can help get younger technicians up to speed.

              “The [Ogden Air Logistics Complex] depot itself is having a hard time with keeping their people — Northrop Grumman down the street is paying more,” he said. “With new people coming in, not having a lot of experience … this is to help everyone.”

              The salvaged planes can build trainees’ confidence and make them more comfortable at work, said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Browning, who works on the jet’s stealth features with the 388th Maintenance Squadron.

              “With the new generation of airmen, most of them haven’t even touched tools before,” he said. “We have to charge them with drilling holes in a $120 million airplane. You want to make the mistake here, and learn here, before you go out and exercise that ability.”

              They also serve to educate civilian employees and contractors who may only have experience repairing fourth-generation aircraft. More advanced aircraft like the F-35, F-22 Raptor and B-2 Spirit require a more precise hand than their earlier counterparts, Browning said.

              “[On] B-52s, if it’s not coming off, you hit it harder,” he said. “You don’t do that on an F-35. Everything’s pieced together perfectly.”

              A salvaged F-35A fuselage sits in two sections after being cut in half with the volunteer help of a civilian saw manufacturing company, May 4, 2022, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The aircraft was condemned after an accident and is currently being transformed into sectional training aids by the 372nd Training Squadron, Detachment 3, for use during instruction of F-35 maintainers.

              Wilkow said the project can save the Air Force tens of millions of dollars on buying new training systems from F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

              Progress can be slow, in part because the people and equipment needed to get the job done are in short supply. But Wilkow said it’s worth it.

              “When the Air Force spends so much money on the aircraft, maintenance doesn’t get the fancy simulators to train on,” he said. “It’s a neat opportunity for us to get nice, new toys — even if they’re garbage.”

              His advice to other airmen who want to do the same: Build a good plan, communicate it well and follow through.

              “This takes a lot of creativity and innovation, thinking outside the box,” he said. “If you have something good, stick with it.”

              Well hot damn, THAT'S how it's supposed to be done!
              "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


              • Haven't even touched tools yet!? Maybe I should enlist as I have touched tools, routinely rebuild car engines, suspensions, brake systems, ignition systems, and fabricated new panels for a TBM Avenger to rivet in. Hell, I am way ahead of those guys only I am not living in Utah.


                • Thailand air force says U.S. has denied request to buy F-35 jets

                  A F-35A fighter aircraft rolls on a tarmac at the Swiss Air Force base in Emmen

                  BANGKOK (Reuters) - The United States has declined to sell its F-35 stealth fighter jets to Thailand over issues with training and technical requirements, the Southeast Asian country's air force said on Thursday.

                  Thailand, which was designated a Major Non-NATO Ally by the United States in 2003, had last year set aside a 13.8 billion baht ($407.68 million) budget for new jets to replace its aging, mostly U.S.-made F-5 and F-16 fighters.

                  It identified up to eight Lockheed Martin F-35A jets as its target.

                  But sale of the fifth-generation fighters was subject to conditions that included time constraints, technical requirements and maintenance compatibility and the United States was therefore unable to offer the sale, air force spokesperson Air Chief Marshall Prapas Sornchaidee said in a statement.

                  The F-35 is one of the world's most advanced fighter aircraft and is considered a sensitive export sold only to the United States' closest allies, which in the Indo-Pacific includes Australia, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

                  Thailand currently has 12 JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets made by Sweden's Saab in addition to its U.S.-made models, many of which have been in operation for decades.

                  Thailand's military has used U.S. technology going back to the Vietnam War era, when it hosted U.S. air force and navy personnel at its bases. Thailand has for many years hosted annual "Cobra Gold" training exercises with the United States.

                  Those warm ties have, however, been strained by the Thai military's coups against elected governments in 2006 and 2014, and concerns about overtures by army-backed governments towards rival power China.

                  Prapas said the air force would still replace its F-16 jets and the United States had offered the upgraded F-15 and F-16s models, which could be transferred faster.

                  ($1 = 33.8500 baht)
                  "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig