How the US Navy plans to fix the F-35's most troubling problem
In January, a report from Inside Defense broke the news that the US Navy’s F-35 variant, the most expensive in the Joint Strike Fighter family, had an issue with the nose gear that made takeoffs untenably rough and the aircraft unsuited for carrier launches.
The Navy’s F-35C has a history of problems with its development as it attempts to master the tricky art of catapult launches from aircraft carriers, but the nose-gear issue could set back the F-35C into the 2020s if an innovative solution is not found quickly.
Business Insider has uncovered footage that appears to show the problem:
— JR Vianney (@jrvianney) January 27, 2017
Essentially, the takeoff in the F-35C is too rough, jostling the pilots so they can’t read flight-critical data on their $400,000 helmet-mounted displays.
“This is a very stiff airplane, even though the oscillations about the same magnitude as you would see in a Super Hornet. It beats the pilot up pretty good,” US Air Force Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan told reporters at the McAleese/Credit Suisse defense conference earlier this month, US Naval Institute News reported.
F-35C pilots are “hurting after doing three or four of these [launches] and in some instances even banging his half-a-million-dollar helmet on the canopy,” Bogdan said. “That’s not good for the canopy or the helmet. So we knew we had an issue there.”
Testing at a land-based US Navy catapult system showed that instead of a costly and lengthy redesign of the F-35C’s nose section, some smaller adjustments may suffice.
“The initial indication is some of those techniques improved” the F-35C’s launches, Babione said. He conceded that the real testing would be done by the Navy aboard carriers “to see whether or not those changes were successful.”
The make-or-break tests of the launch will take place at sea later this year.
THE MIGHTY SURVEY GIVE-AWAY
We want to hear your thoughts. Complete our survey for a chance to win 1 of 5 gaming consoles
- 100 years ago, the real-life Lawrence of Arabia authored a leadership pamphlet full of insights that are still useful today
- The US Navy is getting a 'game-changing' upgrade that could turn the tables on China and Russia
- A van plowed into dozens of people on a tourist-heavy street in Barcelona — suspect in custody, multiple fatalities reported
- These photos of the border between North and South Korea show just how disastrous a nuclear strike could be
- US kills 7 al Shabaab fighters in Somalia air strike
- The US-North Korean crisis will face a major test on Monday as Kim Jong Un holds his fire on Guam
Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter .