Print 29 comment(s) - last by drewsup.. on Apr 8 at 8:14 AM

Marine and Navy pilots took first night flights in January

An F-35A fighter took off from Eglin Air Force Base on its first nighttime training mission late last month. Prior to this flight, the Air Force version of the advanced fighter was prohibited from operating at night or during adverse weather.
One of the issues which prohibited nighttime flights involved symbols displayed to the pilot that traditionally differ between the Air Force and Navy/Marines versions of aircraft. The Air Force has a different airworthiness authority, AFLCMC, than the NAVAIR standards already incorporated into the F-35 night systems.

[Image Source: Lockheed Martin]
“Back in [training] the displays the pilots were looking at were confusing to Air Force pilots but not confusing to Navy and Marine Corps pilots because a lot of the symbology was of Navy origin," described Air Force Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan.
To get around this issue, the Air Force trained 15 pilots on simulators at Elgin and at the plant in Ft. Worth until the Air Force was sure its pilots were ready for night operations.
Despite the recent good news that South Korea chose the F-35 as its next generation fighter, there are still lingering fears that software delays could continue to set the program back.

Source: Defense News

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different symbols?
By lostdummy on 4/3/2014 10:55:42 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder who came with idea to use different symbols in Navy and Air force?

RE: different symbols?
By gamerk2 on 4/3/14, Rating: 0
RE: different symbols?
By jabber on 4/3/2014 12:24:02 PM , Rating: 4
Same in the UK. Plus there are arbitrary rules as to which vehicles and aircraft each part (RN/RAF/army) can use.

Say the Army has helicopter pilots and it wants to use larger helicopters it can't. Army can only fly attack copters because if they try to buy say Chinooks then the RAF complains and says the Chinooks are exclusively for them.

So you have three stubborn grey haired muppets at the top of each group arguing the toss all the while.

Just costs time, money and lives. They all work together so just combine them.

RE: different symbols?
By gamerk2 on 4/3/2014 1:10:13 PM , Rating: 3
Agreed. I say, don't scrap the A-10 (which is the best anti-tank weapon we've got); give it to the Army. They'll love it.

RE: different symbols?
By Samus on 4/3/2014 11:45:34 PM , Rating: 2
Especially since it's a cinch to fly. I think practically anybody can be trained in an A-10.

On another note, what's with the Tron LED strips on the tail and below the pit? lol.

RE: different symbols?
By FaaR on 4/4/2014 7:51:54 AM , Rating: 2
Presumably the LEDs (if that's what they are) are position indicator lights, like pretty much all (passenger) aircraft have... Or that's my guess anyway.

RE: different symbols?
By Lorfa on 4/6/2014 1:46:43 AM , Rating: 2
Clearly it's an alienware F35

RE: different symbols?
By drewsup on 4/8/2014 8:14:29 AM , Rating: 2
All usaf aircraft have these, used to work on f111's, made in the 60's, they had them too. Used as position/parking lights, when its dark out, it really helps visually to show basic outline on airframe.

RE: different symbols?
By sorry dog on 4/4/2014 8:29:24 PM , Rating: 2
The Air Force would give up their beloved F15 before they would allow the Army to fly A10's.

I have nothing against the A10, yet the fact is that something has to go if nothing changes in the Air Force's future budgets. So if you want to keep the A10, what else do you ax to keep it?

The bomber force is old and already stretched thin and funding for it's replacements is badly needed.
The air transport wings stay pretty busy and that's not an area that can really do with less capability.
If you ax any F16's then you are cutting the units that have done many of Iraq and Af'stan deployments as well as air defense basically the bread and butter of our multirole force.
Until the F35 comes online, the mudhens (F15E's) are best interdiction or medium range strike planes.
The F22's are the pride of nation and well as our trump card against any serious opponents.
The up coming tankers replacements speak for themselves.
So what's left that is big money? F35 funding, F15C's, a few C130's, and A10's, trainers, and maybe recon/Awacs.

F35 funding may be a tempting target but what you cut today must be made up later plus some. Fact is that the F35 IS going to replace the F16 and F15E. For the most likely future missions, it is a far better aircraft than either of those two and will be an excellent strike airplane.

So after that, the next best targets are the A10's and possibly a few F15's. Most of the A10 mission can be handled by other aircraft. This is especially true when flying in contested airspace because the A10's have to fly higher up to survive. When that happens, much of their special capabilities go away.
If cutting the A10's isn't enough, expect talk about early F15 retirement or maybe some 130's like the spectre's.

RE: different symbols?
By Solandri on 4/3/2014 6:41:37 PM , Rating: 3
Fun apocryphal story.

Once a programmer was tasked with designing the display for the Navy's newest aircraft carrier radar system. He'd been taught in metric in school, and had recently worked on an Army contract (the U.S. Army is metric). So naturally he had the display show a plane's altitude in meters.

On the day the system was demonstrated, one of the admirals saw this and went ballistic. "What the !@#$ is this? Son, I don't know where you're from or what the h*ll you're thinking, but this is the U.S. Navy. We don't use pansy meters. We use good old English units. Fix it or your company loses the contract."

Sheepishly, the programmer returned to his company and set about fixing the display. The next time the system was tested, the radar operators looked to see... the aircraft altitude displayed in negative fathoms.

RE: different symbols?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/3/14, Rating: -1
RE: different symbols?
By wordsworm on 4/3/14, Rating: -1
RE: different symbols?
By Argon18 on 4/3/2014 2:57:41 PM , Rating: 3
Dafuq are you babbling on about?

RE: different symbols?
By Spuke on 4/3/2014 3:16:43 PM , Rating: 3
You know what he said and he's got a great point. Besides, merging them would take 20 years and $600 billion to accomplish knowing our government. And all the middle and upper management would still be retained. No thanks.

RE: different symbols?
By notposting on 4/3/2014 3:44:58 PM , Rating: 2
I hate our government.

Because you're right.

It shouldn't be any harder than watching the Final Four over a couple of beers and making a few decisions. But 20 years and $6 trillion is probably accurate.

RE: different symbols?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/3/14, Rating: -1
RE: different symbols?
By Bubbacub on 4/3/2014 6:41:31 PM , Rating: 2
There is a precedent in doing this - the Wehrmacht was remarkably efficient compared to traditional equal sized separate armed forces in ww2.

Direct inter service communication and tactics were what blitzkrieg was all about.

The defeat of the Wehrmacht only came after they were massively outnumbered on both sides and after a lunatic (Hitler) took direct control of military strategy.

There is a huge operational advantage to combining the three components of the armed forces. The issue of the federal government being overly wasteful in any reorganisation is very true - I'm just talking about operational efficiency in the long run.

RE: different symbols?
By hartleyb on 4/4/2014 3:17:39 PM , Rating: 3
Here is where I would disagree and agree. While there is some parts of the services that could be combined to save money i.e. environmental sciences and weather, communications & some R& D programs, the separation of the services actually saves money. You have to remember that the mission of each service is drastically different, and the equipment each purchases and uses does not translate between services. While the F35A nomenclature is used, there is a huge difference between the Airforce and Navy variants. Navy aircraft are heavier, require more power, and have added safety equipment as they take off and land on carriers. The Navy variant also has more redundancy because it can't land when things go wrong over the ocean. This true of almost all the equipment the services use i.e. the Marines are an invading force that needs light weight equipment with a lot of fire power, while the Army is a maintaining force that needs much more heavier and permanent equipment. The Navy and Marines work over the water and their systems are also designed to take that into account. The Airforce primary mission is strategic which means it has a role in Space, and Strategic warfare like nuclear deterrence etc. Where there is overlap I agree we could save money by giving that overlap to one service or the other to save money, but a combining of the services would not only cost more, and it would weaken the overal mission and capabilities of each service. We have seen this with a combining of mission capabilities on Ships were the number of missions increased but knoeone is an expert in any of the mission areas.

RE: different symbols?
By hartleyb on 4/4/2014 3:00:30 PM , Rating: 2
There are a lot of reasons for this i.e. the mission, and mission capability, of the two services is greatly different. Air Force guys don't land on carriers, or do much over water operations. The aircraft for the two services are different in many other ways as well. The structural integrity of the Navy version has to be much higher as it is shot off the deck using a catapult. With the extra weight comes more power requirements and the list goes on and on. My dad works on aircraft from both services, and has told me the Navy aircraft require a lot more maintenance, and they have to take a lot more of a beating the Air Force version. Navy pilots by far fly more night time missions than any other service, so they have perfected the symbology to allow for this. The Navy has also paid for, and done many studies on proper symbology that is easy to read under adverse pilot conditions i.e. low light, g-forces, and extreme altitude.

By chromal on 4/3/2014 10:38:01 AM , Rating: 1
I wonder what fighter aircraft designers active 40-50 years ago would have through at the development cycle of the F-35 variants. I thought these were a lot closer to operational status than they obviously actually are if they're only getting these birds in the air under night time or IFR this many years into the program.. I realize this was more of a duplication-of-effort between service branches issue, but still.

RE: bleh
By inperfectdarkness on 4/3/2014 11:06:14 AM , Rating: 2
The F-86 provides a great example. They were known as LT-eaters, because of how difficult they were to fly. Back then, the USAF just kicked them out and it was literally sink or fly.

Fortunately, we have come to adopt better standards. Both because losing jets costs money, and because losing pilots costs time/money/experience.

Without exception, practically every argument I see levied against weapons system procurement in the 21st century is guilty of Parmenides fallacy. Specifically, the arguments presented compare our current state of affairs with how things were in the past--vice comparing it to an alternative current state of affairs, one in which their hypothesis is true.

The days when a "front line fighter" consisted of a pilot, 50 caliber machine guns, and and engine....are gone. No one likes to admit it, but if all that was fielded were WWII era fighter planes, there would be no need for an air-force; modern IADS could swat every single one of them out of the sky.

I've heard dozens of "armchair strategists" who think they know better about what the USAF's fighter jets should be. Meanwhile, no one likes to think about the fact that the F15/16 were designed before the Apple II existed--and that technology (let alone the internet) has rapidly changed in the interim. So unless you're 100% certain that all of the USA's potential enemies for the next 50 years will be using 1960's airframes outfitted with 1980's technology, there is a distinct and urgent need for better weapons systems.

RE: bleh
By gamerk2 on 4/3/2014 11:25:43 AM , Rating: 3
I for one am not opposed to having a large AF, I'm opposed to the JSF. It does NOTHING better then planes we already have. I'd rather build more F-22's [which are now CHEAPER], and keep the A-10 and F15-E around for the ground attack role. This approach would be a lot cheaper then building 2000 JSF's, and grant more capability.

RE: bleh
By MrBlastman on 4/3/2014 12:47:46 PM , Rating: 2
Those that don't want a JSF fail to understand the importance and usefulness its existing cousins, such as the F-16 and F-18, provide.

RE: bleh
By inperfectdarkness on 4/3/2014 2:04:23 PM , Rating: 2
I would rather have had the F22's as well, but the armchair strategists were out in full force cheering congress on when they decided to axe product before we hit the 200 unit mark.

The A-10 needs to go. It's a great plane, but everything it does would be done better by a drone. Put an MQ9 on steroids and you have a viable alternative to the venerable A10.

We don't have nearly enough F15's for ground attack, and the navy can't use them at all. What the JSF does "better"--at this point--is simply provide lower Mx-per-flight-hour operating costs, and that's fine with me. F16's and 18's are so long in the tooth that they just cannot stick around much longer. The F18E/F did nothing to substantially improve upon the F14 (in fact, it's worse in many areas), but the Mx involved in keeping it airworthy is night and day. That's the same thing that we see now with the F16/18's. Sucks, yes, but flying a plane will make it wear out. You simply cannot design a plane to fly forever. Every DC3 in existence has pretty much had every rivet, every rib, every inch of skin replaced.

RE: bleh
By corduroygt on 4/4/2014 12:04:05 AM , Rating: 2
A-10 is great but not needed. Drones + AC-130 can do everything it can

RE: bleh
By chromal on 4/3/2014 1:02:34 PM , Rating: 2
I made a comment about designs 40-50 years ago, e.g.: Vietnam era US F/A planes, not WW II, which would have been designed 75 years ago. Even though this era of service plane entered into the, what, 3rd generation, followed by 4th gen fighters-- my comment was meant more to compare the developers and the process than the final product. I think everyone can agree this technology is a moving target. Certainly other air forces aren't pausing, and we can expect F-35 variants could be facing the Su-35S et al.

RE: bleh
By danjw1 on 4/3/2014 2:33:34 PM , Rating: 2
Much of what you say is true, but the F-15 and F-16 have both had block upgrades over time. So the electronics in them isn't as antiquated as you are suggesting. That said, it is time for a new generation of fighter attack aircraft.

I do have an issue that the program is way over budget. These cost plus contracts just don't do any good for anyone other than the manufacture(s). The pentagon needs a system to better control the costs of their programs. Much of this is mission bloat; everyone wants their pet feature in the finished product. I do understand how complex the systems are and that their will always be issues with systems integration, but the F-22 and the F-35 are truly out of control. The F-35 was supposed to be the "cheap" work horse fighter.

RE: bleh
By US56 on 4/3/2014 5:54:39 PM , Rating: 2
The F-86 provides a great example. They were known as LT-eaters, because of how difficult they were to fly. Back then, the USAF just kicked them out and it was literally sink or fly.

What an odd slander against one of the greatest combat aircraft in the history of aviation. Far from being difficult to fly, the F-86 was an easy transition for most pilots. The F-86 in general and the F-86A in particular are considered to be some of the best flying jets ever built. For sheer ease and joy of flying, few, if any, aircraft exceeded the F-86 until the introduction of the F-16. About the only other aircraft which could compare to a Sabre amongst the early generations of U.S. built jets might be the early variants of the A4D/A-4 Skyhawk which were given the nickname "Scooter" for a good reason.

RE: bleh
By inperfectdarkness on 4/4/2014 3:19:37 PM , Rating: 2
I stand corrected, that was the F-84 (and arguably the F-100). I stand by my point though about the USAF being more apt to pushing a new design out the door before being fully vetted. By the end of the 80's, the USAF had lost enough F-16's to accidents to outfit an entire WING.

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