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F-35B flight testing
Testing is going exceedingly well for this first round of sea trials

The F-35 Lightning II program has been long delayed and is well over budget. One of the most problem-plagued versions of the program is the F-35B that the Marine Corps will fly. The F-35B is the STOVL version of the fighter aircraft designed to operate from amphibious assault ships.
The F-35B has hit another very important milestone in its flight-testing program as it is now undergoing sea trials. F-35B test aircraft BF-04 is at sea on the Wasp amphibious assault ship and has so far flown 60 of the 67 required sorties in this round of testing at sea. 
On October 18, the vertical landing capability of the aircraft was shown off for the first time in front of a gathering of reporters. Test pilot Marine Col. Roger Cordell stated, "We feel like we're running when we intended to crawl." 
In the beginning of the sea trials, the flight team started with the same envelope that was approved for flying the existing AV-8B Harrier the F-35B is replacing. After successful testing, the team expanded the flight envelope for the F-35B and went up to landing in 30 knots of headwind and down to 10 knots of headwind. The team also flew the jet with a 15-degree crosswind.
Marine Lt. Col. Matt Kelly is also helping with flight tests. He added, "I have found this airplane to be just a really nice airplane to fly in the shipboard environment. Prior to two weeks ago, I had never landed or taken-off from this type of ship… It's a pleasure to fly."
The test program is not only testing the aircraft, it is also testing the ship. The Wasp had to be extensively modified with sensors for the flight test program. The ship also had to have some equipment moved and some antennas removed to clear the greater wingspan of the F-35B compared to the Harrier.

After this round of sea trials, more will commence early next year with additional trials to take place in August of 2013.

Source: Defense News

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Cost vs Technology
By gwidionx on 10/19/2011 3:22:51 PM , Rating: 4
The technology is great, but cost is seriously the Achilles' heel of modern technology. Wikipedia: "Cost estimates have risen to $382 billion for 2,443 aircraft, at an average of $156 million each." Compare that to an F18 at $29-$57 million. These things are getting insane! No country on earth including USA can afford the constantly increasing costs of this kind of technology AND do all the other (arguably wasteful) things we do with our money. Either the size of the fleets are going to have to be cut drastically or new money's going to have to come from somewhere (new taxes, cutting programs depending on your side).

RE: Cost vs Technology
By Amiga500 on 10/19/11, Rating: 0
RE: Cost vs Technology
By vanionBB on 10/19/2011 7:01:44 PM , Rating: 3
More likely the question will be, "can we afford not to put this in harms way?"

RE: Cost vs Technology
By BansheeX on 10/20/11, Rating: 0
RE: Cost vs Technology
By Bad-Karma on 10/23/2011 10:57:24 PM , Rating: 2
We put the B-2 into constant, almost daily, use for all of Allied Force in 1999.

At two+ billion for each B-2 your argument about the F-35's value falls a bit flat.

RE: Cost vs Technology
By parithon on 10/19/2011 5:00:53 PM , Rating: 3
Except reduction just makes the cost of the fleet more expensive. These purchases are not like other products in the market, the technology is exclusive to the government and the R&D price is passed with the product. Therefore, the more you purchase the cheaper the plane will eventually become because the R&D will eventually drop off the total dollar. Further, the technology for this ground breaking aircraft can be used to build other aircraft and their price will also be reduced.

RE: Cost vs Technology
By delphinus100 on 10/19/2011 10:21:28 PM , Rating: 2
Economies of scale benefit pretty much anything, yes.

Assuming that you do indeed need the large quantity, of course, but that's a policy matter...

RE: Cost vs Technology
By Bad-Karma on 10/19/2011 10:05:36 PM , Rating: 2
Instead of continually building bigger and better weapons of mass destruction, I say we should get more use out of the ones we already have.

-Jack Handy

RE: Cost vs Technology
By DougF on 10/20/2011 9:44:44 AM , Rating: 5
YOU fix them, and then say those words again. I'm tired of trying to keep 30/40/50 year old aircraft in condition to go to war at a moment's notice. YOU find the suppliers who've long since died or gone out of business for spare parts. YOU get your rear end into confined spaces to grind out corrosion on/repair/replace various structures that were never designed to last this long. YOU try and find the break in 30/40/50 year old wiring, pulling panels off the backbone in 140 degree heat in some desert somewhere, or 40 degrees below zero in some northern tier base.

You sit in your office somewhere and make pronouncements like this not having one small iota of a clue on what it takes to keep KC-135s and B-52s designed in the 50's and last made in the 60's, and F-15C/Ds designed in the 70's and made in the 80's flying. Heck, even the B-2's are now 20yrs old. We still have U-2s flying missions! That these aircraft can a)fly and b)operate under the stresses of wartime operations is nothing short of a daily miracle. The problem is: this daily miracle is costing the US taxpayers an arm and both legs, not only in material costs, but the workforce required to keep the aircraft flying.

Tell you what, keep your current car for 50 years and get back to me. Oh, and it has to be updated with all the latest safety and pollution requirements; has to be kept in pristine condition, reliable enough to put your family in, and use both in daily commutes and long-distance driving. The vast majority of us would reckon that it's a good deal to trade a vehicle in about every 7-10 years, as costs of maintenance and concerns about safety/reliability start to loom larger and larger as the years go by. Maybe not at 7-10 years for aircraft, but certainly as they approach their 3rd decade of use.

RE: Cost vs Technology
By bigdawg1988 on 10/20/2011 1:40:04 PM , Rating: 2
Dude, I can only imagine what doing repairs on a BUFF must be like. My dad says that when working on the C-5 wing it drove the engineers crazy because nothing seemed to fit. What the young fellas didn't know was that the parts were usually way off and the guys on the line "made them fit." Works fine until you try to replace the part using blueprints. A great deal of the parts were basically custom size. And C-5s are 20 years younger than B-52s. I bet every part on a BUFF is virtually custom-made. I can't believe we're still flying those darn things. Is the BONE that bad?
I hate to have to replace all those planes, but I hate the thought of pilots flying aircraft that fall apart mid-air even more. Hey, freedom isn't free!!

RE: Cost vs Technology
By DougF on 10/20/2011 9:39:51 PM , Rating: 2
Even up to the F-16 it was pretty much shimmy and wedge various pieces together on the assembly line. Some of the older models, like the F-111s I once worked on, could only swap panels between aircraft that came off the same assembly line. So, we had to keep lists of which aircraft were "related" to the others in order to move panels around.

I got to tour the JSF and F-22 plants and they laser-align the stands to within a few thousandths of an inch, so the shimmy and wedge is almost non-existent on those aircraft.

The Bone is known for having lots of maintenance issues, mostly with avionics and defensive warfare systems. But, my personal opinion is that you should NEVER give a bomber pilot after burning engines, it just lets them get into really deep trouble... LOL.

RE: Cost vs Technology
By JonnyDough on 10/21/2011 2:38:22 AM , Rating: 2
I'm a C-21/C-27/C-130 crew chief (iso/phase docks) and you guys are absolutely right about our aged fleet. Many of our C-130's are from the 60's and although they are pretty much all new except for the airframe they still have many many design flaws. Nonetheless, to build something that amazing in the 40's or 50's without computers still makes me marvel. Modern jets like the C-27J are way way way better to work on. They design them with modern aviation knowledge, precise testing, and manufacture them now with more environmental/economical/maintenance in mind. Working on a newer jet can still have its quirks and aircraft maintenance is still aircraft maintenance but its nice not to have to refuel on top of a wing in the ice and snow. :)

RE: Cost vs Technology
By JonnyDough on 10/21/2011 2:51:12 AM , Rating: 2
There are planes going to the boneyard every year because so many parts have to be cannibalized. Since 9-11 we've been putting phasing out our A-10s and replacing our C-130s more and more with J models and now we've purchased X number (I won't say how many) C-27s as well.

RE: Cost vs Technology
By Nfarce on 10/20/2011 3:10:12 PM , Rating: 2
That has to be the reply of the year on DT.

RE: Cost vs Technology
By FITCamaro on 10/20/2011 8:41:05 PM , Rating: 1

RE: Cost vs Technology
By Bad-Karma on 10/23/2011 11:03:18 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but Doug missed that the original quote was implied sarcasm from the 80's SNL skits. You guys make me feel old.

RE: Cost vs Technology
By iamezza on 10/20/2011 5:08:38 PM , Rating: 2
These old aircraft need to be replaced, no doubt. But what if every 7-10 years they made a newer revision of these planes and did a new production run? They could incorporate new technologies, fix any known problems, improve performance and improve ease of maintenance.
I think there is probably a real need for a stealth fighter like the F-22 Raptor. But a lot of these other platforms they are working on it seems like they are trying to re-invent the wheel from scratch when they already had a proven platform to begin with.

RE: Cost vs Technology
By DougF on 10/20/2011 9:49:39 PM , Rating: 2
There was a lot to be said for the older way of producing aircraft; get the first model out the door, fix/improve for the next model, etc. Worked great on aircraft production up to the F-4 and then somehow all aircraft/military hardware had to "perfect" when the first one rolled off the assembly line or the whole thing was a fiasco.
If we did the same on the F-22, and then sold the A models to the Japanese/Israelis/RAF/Germans/ally of the year, we could recoup some of the costs and help pay for improved B models, etc. Let's face it, without the training and logistics support, even the best fighter in the world is just a target for a capable pilot who understands the theory of air to air combat. So what if the Japanese or Israelis get "access" to the stealth coatings or the AESA radar, we'll have the improved versions in the B model. (and from what I've heard, the stealth coatings on the F-22 are a nightmare to repair, taking 3 days to cure, unlike the JSF, which are tough enough to have the tour groups walk on. They even split the sheet metal mechanics career field on the F-22 into two, one of which specializes in repairing the stealth coatings.)

RE: Cost vs Technology
By FITCamaro on 10/20/2011 8:37:21 PM , Rating: 1
You are my fucking hero.

If you come to Charleston, you get as many beers as you want on me.

RE: Cost vs Technology
By FITCamaro on 10/20/2011 8:42:24 PM , Rating: 2
And how is this not a 6. Oh wait...

RE: Cost vs Technology
By 91TTZ on 10/20/2011 11:23:35 PM , Rating: 2
That's just great. You DO realize that he was quoting Deep Thoughts, a senseless series of skits on Saturday Night Live, right?

RE: Cost vs Technology
By DougF on 10/21/2011 9:46:53 AM , Rating: 2
Not until you brought it up. Never heard of "Jack Handy", and stopped watching SNL when the Ackroyd/Belushi/Curtin/Chase/Murray/Radner/Newman/M orris crowd left (and I got married, went overseas for four years, and found other things to do on Saturday nights).

Oh well, it still felt good to vent, and took me almost 30min to come up with it. Maybe I can save it for another time?

RE: Cost vs Technology
By Bad-Karma on 10/23/2011 10:58:55 PM , Rating: 2
There is a lot of sarcasm in that quote Doug, you could even say it reeks of it. It was a shot at levity to gwidionx's post, but I think a majority of the DT crowd may be a bit to young to recall the SNL skits.

I spent years training to drop megaton warheads on whatever city was put on our target list. Luckily it it was always for training. But all of it was in aging aircraft that were already old when I started in the Buff in the early 70's and then into equally past prime RC135s and EC-130s.

I'm sure I could count the number of MX canced sorties and IFEs well into the 100s over my 22 year career on birds that should have been retired decades ago. I'm all for modernizing the fleets, whatever it takes.

RE: Cost vs Technology
By Reclaimer77 on 10/20/2011 10:40:29 AM , Rating: 2
Yes but remember, the whole reason for going with the "JSF" was because the F-22 was "too expensive". This is what happens when politicians instead of military and contractor experts get involved in something.

RE: Cost vs Technology
By lagomorpha on 10/20/2011 1:41:52 PM , Rating: 2
Also that the F22 doesn't have the structural strength to land on an aircraft carrier without damage much less the ability to land on amphibious assault ships making it worthless to the Navy and Marines. As expensive as the F35 is turning out to be, I can't imagine what the cost would be like if they tried to add those features to the F22.

Aircraft are going to be needed to replace the F16, F/A-18, and Harrier II but it didn't make sense to anyone other than incompetent politicians and 7 year old boys to make the replacement a single aircraft. For what the F35 program has cost, we could have had a twin engine carrier aircraft the Navy needed, a superior VTOL aircraft the Marines wanted, and a modern low cost F16 replacement for the Air-Force and export.

RE: Cost vs Technology
By FITCamaro on 10/20/2011 8:34:24 PM , Rating: 2
Ah so no to one time cost of $382 billion but we can afford $1.5+ trillion every year in social welfare programs into eternity.

I have a feeling...
By JonnyDough on 10/19/2011 3:03:43 PM , Rating: 2
we'll be ordering more of these when we can afford them. They're a craft and our current fleet is showing its age. (Age has nothing to do with years, and more to do with flying hours on the aircraft frame for those of you who aren't USAF jet mechanics) ;)

RE: I have a feeling...
By Amiga500 on 10/19/2011 3:24:49 PM , Rating: 3
I very much doubt it.

Given the development rate of UCAVs; when any money becomes available, it would be much more effectively spent on other platforms, munitions or equipment.

RE: I have a feeling...
By mellomonk on 10/19/2011 6:16:39 PM , Rating: 2
It is highly unlikely that we will purchase anywhere near those numbers. I've seen total procurement numbers in the 1500 range, which of course raise the unit price higher. That doesn't include sales to allies which could help offset the costs. The time frame of the procurement and entry into service is also being stretched out.

The JSF project and it's eventual production aircraft are impressive pieces of technology, but have come of age in an era of IEDs, terrorism, recession, big budget woes, and alternate evolving tech. It already will not replace many of the aircraft it is designed to and it will not be surprising if it is cancelled after a limited number are deployed.

By A.A. Cunningham on 10/19/2011 10:45:42 PM , Rating: 3
F-35B test aircraft BF-04 is at sea on the Wasp amphibious assault ship and has so far flown 60 of the 67 required sorties in this round of testing at sea.

Incorrect. There are two F-35Bs embarked aboard the Wasp; BF-04 and BF-02.

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