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F-35 vertical landing  (Source: DefenseNews)
Jets have significant issues with engines and other componnets

The F-35 Lightning II program can't win for losing. The long running issues with the aircraft have been well documented and have led to delays in the program. Many of the flight issues with the F-35 have centered on the more mechanically complex F-35B STOVL version of the fighter aircraft. A new report has surfaced that highlights some previously unknown problems with the F-35 program.

According to a report compiled by the Pentagon Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, the F-35 aircraft all suffer from various problems with handling, avionics, afterburner, and the helmet-mounted display systems. The F-35A and F-35B variants are specifically said to suffer from "transonic wing roll-off, [and] greater than expected sideslip during medium angle-of-attack testing" according to the report. The report also notes that many of the components being used in the aircraft are not as reliable as expected.

The F-35B has had various issues with subcomponents in the past, specifically the ones that allow the door behind the cockpit to open so the aircraft can get the air needed for vertical landing. The F-35B has made successful vertical landings recently.

One key problem that is common on the aircraft is an issue described as afterburner "screech" reports Defense News. Apparently, the F-135 engine provided by Pratt and Whitney has a problem where airflow causes severe vibrations that prevent the engine from reaching maximum power.

The helmet-mounted display system in the aircraft is also having issues, but the report doesn't delve into this exact problems. The F-35 has no traditional heads-up display like other aircraft flying today - all pilot data is on a display inside the helmet.

Lockheed martin spokesman John Kent said, "The F-35 air system advances Helmet Mounted Display technology to capabilities not flying today on any other tactical platform. With this advancement in technology come challenges that the program is actively managing. The challenges are being worked with the supplier." Kent goes on to say, "While there are no current plans to change suppliers, options are being considered in parallel that mitigate the most stressing issues. Flight testing is proceeding with the HMD installed and used with no safety of flight concerns."

The report also mentions an issue with the aircraft’s onboard inert Gas Generation System that helps prevent oxygen from building up inside the fuel tanks where it becomes a fire hazard. The report recommends a redesign for the system. 



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RE: Uhhh....?
By gamerk2 on 1/20/2011 7:53:58 AM , Rating: 0
True, but the 22 has its own long-term maintenence problemns to get over.

Frankly, from a performance standpoint, the "best" option is to keep making late model F-18's, and figure out a way to remove the pilot; the planes can already be pushed farther then a human pilot can take, so how about removing the weakest link for performance?


RE: Uhhh....?
By misuspita on 1/20/2011 3:13:38 PM , Rating: 2
I believe that until Artificial Intelligence will be able to pursue a target, avoid incoming threats, perform evasive maneuvers, and withstand unknown situations that appear in-flight, removal of the human pilot from the airplane is a pipe dream.

And you cannot pilot from hundred or thousand miles away. It's just not realistically possible. Not when a split second makes the difference.


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