Air Force F-35A Makes First Nighttime Flight
April 3, 2014 10:34 AM
comment(s) - last by
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,
, than the
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.
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RE: different symbols?
4/4/2014 3:00:30 PM
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.
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