14 January 2017

It Really Is the Gift That Keeps on Giving

The F-35, of course.

In this case, it is the C model, intended to operate on carriers.

First they had to relocate the arrestor hook because it did not work, and now pilots are experiencing violent oscillations during catapult launch:(paid subscription required)
Fleet pilots say the violent vertical oscillations seen during carrier launches of the U.S. Navy’s F-35 variant are a safety concern, even as the Pentagon races to fix the problem.

One of the most critical and dangerous phases of flight for Navy pilots is the launch, when an aircraft is shot from the carrier by a steam-driven catapult. For the F-35C carrier variant, pilots discovered a complex problem during recent at-sea testing: excessive vertical oscillations, or a bouncing effect, during takeoff.

Pilots who conducted training onboard the carrier USS George Washington during the latest set of ship trials said these oscillations were “a safety concern,” the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) wrote in its most recent annual report.

“Excessive vertical oscillations during catapult launches make the F-35C operationally unsuitable for carrier operations, according to fleet pilots,” DOT&E wrote.

Pilots reported the oscillations were so severe that they could not read flight-critical data, DOT&E said. The oscillations caused most pilots to lock their harness during launch, which made emergency switches hard to reach. The pilots deemed this situation “unacceptable and unsafe,” DOT&E wrote.

The Navy has informed the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) that it considers this problem a “must fix” deficiency.


[Program Chief L. General Christopher] Bogdan downplayed the problem, saying the oscillations only occur at very light gross takeoff weights.
The first thing to note is that Gen. Bogdan is Air Force, and either has no clue as to carrier ops, or is pimping the F-35 furiously without regard to the truth. (Or both)

Light weight takeoff are routine.  They are used for things like pilot qualification and freshers and ferrying aircraft to and from land bases when the ship returns to port.

The second thing is that they have been doing catapult launches of the F-35 for about ½ a decade now, and they have only now just spotted this.

At this point, I expect the software to start shutting down with the plane issuing the verbal notification "Baba Booey."


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