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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 Aloonatic on 1/19/2011 4:22:37 AM , Rating: 2
Because the helicopter alternative (as suggested above by the OP) would land and refuel/rearm using happy thoughts and moon beams?

One of the advantages that aircraft have is that they can go further. So they would not have to be based so close to the front line, so easier to supply, and can get to where they need to be hell of a lot faster too.

Of course, there will be helicopter cover too, horses for courses. I don't get why people cant see these things as part of a mix of technologies/airframes/whatever that all have their own pros and cons and for fill a certain role well, but none of them do everything perfectly.

Also, of course the marines will want take with them everything that they have decided that they need in order to carry out their operation as effectively as possible. The resources need to take the ammo/fuel for a F35B in relation to what it can achieve on the battle field might well be smaller than the resources needed to have the same effect in theatre in food, fuel and ammo for just marines and their vehicles (that you seem to think also run on moon-beams fairy dust?) or whatever else that might be required.


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