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F-35B Vertical landing  (Source: DefenseNews)
Five landings are the first of 42 needed to move to at-sea trials

Of all the F-35 Lightning II variants currently in testing, the most troubled has been the F-35B STOVL fighter. The aircraft has had recurring issues with sub-components that are failing at higher than expected rates leading to problems and delays in the flight program.

The F-35B fighter was also dealt a blow when the program was recently put on a 2-year probationary period. Lockheed is still hard at work on the F-35B and the aircraft has shown some progress recently. Defense News reports that the aircraft has had a series of five vertical landings over the last eight days that have come off without a hitch.

The vertical landing tests were performed between January 6 and 13. The five successful landings are part of the 42 that must be completed before the aircraft can be tested at sea on an amphibious assault ship. When the remaining tests will happen is unknown; so far the 2011 flight test schedule has not been published.

"I think it does [signal that the program is getting back on track]. This program has never been quite as troubled as many critics thought. I think it's probably progressed more smoothly than other fighter development program with the possible exception of the F-16," said Loren Thompson, an analyst at the Lexington Institute (Arlington, Virginia). The F-16's development proceeded so smoothly because of the simple nature of the original version of that aircraft, he said.

Thompson also notes that the issues the F-35 has faced so far are common teething problems that can be found in new aircraft programs. By comparison, the issues that the F-22 Raptor faced were much worse.

Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia said that the challenges left in the F-35B program can be addressed in the 2-year probationary period.



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RE: Still needed?
By Ammohunt on 1/18/2011 2:00:49 PM , Rating: 2
the marines always want to be diifferent! i personally don't see any significant advantage over using VTOL based planes vs helicopter gunships. The Marine Corp should probably re-evaluate their tactics.


RE: Still needed?
By Solandri on 1/18/2011 2:31:56 PM , Rating: 2
That probably has more to do with the politics of not duplicating combat capabilities. The Air Force and Navy get to have regular planes (carrier-based for the Navy). If the Army or Marines ask for funding for regular fixed-wing aircraft, they just get told to request air support from the Air Force or Navy. So they have to concentrate on non-traditional aircraft (helicopters, VTOL) if they want to get any sort of funding for their own aircraft.


RE: Still needed?
By bah12 on 1/18/2011 4:10:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If the Army or Marines ask for funding for regular fixed-wing aircraft, they just get told to request air support from the Air Force or Navy
Guess his and my point would be. So what? Request air support from them. Hell the Navy most likely has a carrier group in the region anyway, why not have them provide close air support for ground troops that is their job.

Now the counter point is most likely it takes too much time, LIVES ARE AT STAKE HERE BOY!! To that I would suggest we spend our time and resources eliminating the bottlenecks that cause it to "take to long", than developing/maintaining/training a whole new jet because they don't communicate well.

Marines are a workhorse no doubt, but last I checked there aren't a lot of naval threats. Put those assets to work in support of the Marines instead of cluttering up things with more complexity.


RE: Still needed?
By Alexvrb on 1/18/2011 7:58:54 PM , Rating: 4
Yeah you're right! We need to get rid of all the duplicate functions! Let's just delete the Marines entirely. Heck while we're at it, let's kill off the best stealth fighter we've got (oops too late, already did that!).

After all the Chinese are at least a decade away from- hey Secretary Gates, what's that in the background? Oh look, it's a test mule for China's stealth fighter! Hmm, I don't think it'll take them another decade to finish that, given that they've got more free cash than we do. Heck, they don't even need to raise a debt ceiling just to maintain the status quo...


RE: Still needed?
By bah12 on 1/19/2011 9:30:22 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Let's just delete the Marines entirely.
Actually...why not? Not really get rid of them, but role them into a special forces unit of the army/navy. They are a relatively small fighting force, and I firmly believe in KISS (keep it simple stupid). If the argument is they can't get help from the Navy/USAF in a timely fashion, then why not consolidate the upper command chain and remove those bottlenecks.

The people don't need to change and neither would the superb training methods or overall mission. However I do believe that you could combined the command chain and at least some equipment, and at the end of the day be a more cost effective fighting unit. Step back and look at it objectively. If you had no knowledge of the history or heritage of the USMC, and had to describe it to a 3rd party. It would look a lot like a special Naval unit, IMO.

As to your rant on stealth fighters and China, I'm not in any way suggesting we limit the USMC abilities, rather leverage the vast amount of resources that we already have. Surely you can agree that complexity for the sake of complexity is not a good thing.


RE: Still needed?
By Ammohunt on 1/19/2011 1:50:54 PM , Rating: 2
We need the marines to go in and draw fire to expose enemy positions and take the first bullets so that the real work can be done afterward by US ARMY.


RE: Still needed?
By ZmaxDP on 1/18/2011 10:13:58 PM , Rating: 1
Seriously!

I mean, a VSTOL like this only flies significantly faster and significantly farther than a helo. Frequently as much as a factor of 10. That isn't significant though, right???

Then there is the fact that the marines don't operate aircraft carriers. So, if they are to conduct any missions using their ships it means helos or VSTOL.

You all want them to requisition the Navy for every air support role they have? LOL. The marines are frequently in places without a carrier near enough for close combat support. You try explaining to a grunt why he has to wait an hour taking cover under RPG and light artillery bombardment because their littoral ship can't range to their location using a helo and still have enough fuel to fight, and since we cancelled the VSTOLs they have to requisition a ship several hundred miles away to send air support instead? That's all assuming they don't have to jump through bureaucratic hoops to get support at all, or even plan a mission in the first place.

So, how many marines have to die to make it worth while to you???

Don't get me wrong, I don't think they need 1000 of them, but I'll happily pay for a hundred or so. I'd much rather pay for that than healthcare reform that sucks or maintaining social services that are grossly inefficient with their current resources. Please. Education reform I'll pay for. Good tech and funding for our soldiers I'll pay for. All the other bullshit the government "does for us" to build dependence and buy votes, no thanks.


RE: Still needed?
By Ammohunt on 1/19/2011 1:54:41 PM , Rating: 2
The answer would be forward deployed conventional Artillery or Marine MLRS equivalent. 95% percent of close in fire support can be handled that way…Artillery King of battle.


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