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Alan P

F-35 Discussion Thread. Please curb your political enthusiasm and play nicely.

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This is an up-to-date, unclassified report posted in The Aviationist blog from earlier this month. It is written by a Norwegian AF T&E pilot who has 2200 hours flying the F-16. Bear in mind this was written by a current test pilot with extensive F-16 experience, probably using the Gen 3 helmet and Block 2B jet, so it's a fairly good representation of the present state of affairs. Also bear in mind that The Aviationist web author David Cenciotti is not a flag-waving fan of the F-35, far from it in fact. (Not in the same league as Aviation Week, but by no means an LM apologist)

Here's what I've learned dogfighting the F-35

A mix of good and not-so-good characteristics, but the good is very good. It's not going to change the hardcore doubters' minds, of that I'm sure, but it does hopefully put to bed the stupid story from July last year about the jet's WVR capabilities, and hopefully demonstrates that ongoing production alongside R&D does produce "live" development and rolling improvements.

Alan

Edited by Alan P

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Interesting - thanks Alan. It's never going to win any prizes for sleek elegant lines, but that article shows how much good predictive electronics can compensate for lack of old style aerodynamic subtlety! A shame that is no longer needed, but then I'm just old fashioned.

I was intrigued at the comment about faster speed of reaction to inputs from the F-35 and that this experienced pilot could feel the delay in control reaction in the F-16. Size of surfaces and maybe also different programming I suppose. It also intrigued me that he spent quite a bit of the article lauding the ability to slow down quickly. I recall that used to be a much debated issue with the Harrier - many pilots saying that loss of speed in a dogfight was not helpful, since you end up energy low & hence vulnerable - I presume the F-35 like the Harrier recovers fast from that. Nonetheless, a tactic hotly debated at one time.

Better point and shoot is no doubt valuable, though there was an implied large loss of energy there - unsurprising since drag must be very high!

No doubt the guys and girls who get assigned to these will learn to love them, and no doubt others who don't will do their best to find its weak points.

Development is still a long process.

John B

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I'd say the detractors of the F-35 should review the lessons taught by the F-111 about what's involved when that much new technology is being brought to the table in one package. It will be a long road with many rough patches and unfamiliar turns. However, if you make it to the end you'll be happy that you stuck with it.

The F-111 had just as many detractors in it's development phases as the F-35 has now. However, it was kept alive and matured into a well respected machine with a 40+ year career.

The F-35 is showing that it has all the potential to do the same.

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Block 3I implementation is continuing after some patches, stability now doubled since the first load. Operational jets are still using Block 2B/3F. Fixes and updates will be ongoing. Each Block increases the synergy and effectiveness of the onboard systems.

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Dutch F-35s to deploy to Netherlands for three weeks.

story

Edited by Alan P

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I'd say the detractors of the F-35 should review the lessons taught by the F-111 about what's involved when that much new technology is being brought to the table in one package. It will be a long road with many rough patches and unfamiliar turns. However, if you make it to the end you'll be happy that you stuck with it.

The F-111 had just as many detractors in it's development phases as the F-35 has now. However, it was kept alive and matured into a well respected machine with a 40+ year career.

The F-35 is showing that it has all the potential to do the same.

A trully beautiful aircraft, yes, but there might be some better comparison for the F-35, as the F-111 was dropped by the Navy and the UK in 1968, and had an operationnal career of only thirty years with its main user, the USAF.

Back to the main subject, I still have a question relative to UK-made weapons.

Is the F-35 wired for, say, the Brimstone?

If not, what's the schedule?

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Back to the main subject, I still have a question relative to UK-made weapons.

Is the F-35 wired for, say, the Brimstone?

If not, what's the schedule?

Brimstone is not actually in the weapons growth programme for the UK F-35B at the moment. Up to 2022 the weapons growth plan for the UK is to integrate Meteor and SPEAR 3 for the F-35. This means it possibly won't be using Brimstone at all in front-line service. The main reason is that we have two capable platforms for Brimstone, and it would be a large unilateral commitment by the UK to integrate Brimstone on its new F-35s with (probably) Block 5 software, only to have them phased out in favour of SPEAR 3.

With the extended service life of Tornado GR.4 and continuing capability upgrades for Typhoon, the plan is to retain a commonality with Paveway IV for the initial batch of F-35s. The US versions will be going down the SDB route in the mid-term, but all versions are cleared for use of PWIV. Maintaining the integrity of the Block 4 software is the most important consideration in getting the aircraft into service with a proven air-to-ground capability.

Edited by Alan P

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Brimstone is not actually in the weapons growth programme for the UK F-35B at the moment. Up to 2022 the weapons growth plan for the UK is to integrate Meteor and SPEAR 3 for the F-35. This means it possibly won't be using Brimstone at all in front-line service. The main reason is that we have two capable platforms for Brimstone, and it would be a large unilateral commitment by the UK to integrate Brimstone on its new F-35s with (probably) Block 5 software, only to have them phased out in favour of SPEAR 3.

With the extended service life of Tornado GR.4 and continuing capability upgrades for Typhoon, the plan is to retain a commonality with Paveway IV for the initial batch of F-35s. The US versions will be going down the SDB route in the mid-term, but all versions are cleared for use of PWIV. Maintaining the integrity of the Block 4 software is the most important consideration in getting the aircraft into service with a proven air-to-ground capability.

Two capable platforms for Brimstone, yes, but none of them able to operate from an aircraft carrier.

Any good link for the Spear 3, by the way?

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Two capable platforms for Brimstone, yes, but none of them able to operate from an aircraft carrier.

Yes, but Brimstone-capable drones can.

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So the future airwing will include drones and F-35?

Also, any idea about the extended service life of the Tournedos?

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So the future airwing will include drones and F-35?

I didn't actually say that...

Tornado is projected to remain frontline until 2019. It would be difficult to extend that as there are extensive modifications planned for RAF Marham in preparation for handing over to F-35 ops.

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Nice cockpit vid from a Thunderbirds F-16 in formation with an F-35. High AOA flight followed by a nice climb away.

YouTube link

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The second and third Italian-built F-35s made a joint transatlantic crossing to Luke AFB, AZ.

CixIGA9XAAAeAPc.jpg

pic © the aviationist.com

They routed via Lajes, Azores. Transatlantic flights are becoming routine, which bodes well for the UK airshow season.

Edited by Alan P

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The F-111 had just as many detractors in it's development phases as the F-35 has now. However, it was kept alive and matured into a well respected machine with a 40+ year career.

The F-35 is showing that it has all the potential to do the same.

I doubt that there was more armchair critics from the development of the F-111 before the advent of the internet.

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How's this for a nice photo!

CjSWV6-XAAAn7XC.jpg

Credit per photo. © via APD

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Just an idle thought.

As the UK is the only Level 1 partner, why aren't BAE Systems building the European aircraft?

Trevor

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Thanks Alan, nice comparison with the Raptor

Yep. Nothing can touch a nice P-51D.

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I remember when the B787 entered service we had very similar issues with startup and inflight loss of functionality. Most of them were sequential and familiarity-based problems, plus the encroachment of "previous generation assumptions" being applied to next generation equipment.

Things improved rapidly the more aircraft that were delivered - the increase in familiarity resulted in massive improvements in APS ("aircraft prepared for service") events. The same is true for these events - the Marines have been operating frontline F-35s since August 2015, hence better APS reliability.

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I assume that we have Brits embedded with the Marines to build core competency?

Trevor

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I assume that we have Brits embedded with the Marines to build core competency?

Trevor

That's always been the plan, Trevor:

The Royal Air Force and Royal Navy plan to operate 138 F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing aircraft. Their training will take place at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina, where British pilots and maintainers will be embedded with the U.S. Marine Corps and their fleet of F-35Bs.

Edited by Alan P

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Great pic from the RAF:

IMG_20160608_144313.jpg

F-35B refuelling trials from an RAF Voyager in the US. Hopefully means we can bring our own airframes over soon.

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