The Most Expensive F-35 Variant Has Hit Another Major Snag That Could Take Years to Fix (excerpt)
(Source: Business Insider; posted Jan 04, 2017)
A new failing of the F-35 fighter, discovered in 2014 but kept from the public until now, affects the F-35C naval variant, whose pilots feel pain, disorientation and risk possible injury each time it is catapulted from an aircraft carrier. (USN photo)
The Pentagon has established a "red team" to address considerable shortcomings with the F-35C, the carrier-based naval variant of the most expensive weapons project in history.
The F-35, subject to cost overruns and delays throughout its production, reached an initial state of military readiness with its Air Force and Marine variants in 2016, but the Navy's variant lags behind in part due to an issue with its nose gear during catapult-assisted takeoffs from aircraft carriers, Inside Defense uncovered on Wednesday.
Essentially the problem, detailed in a Navy report with data dating back to 2014, deals with rough takeoffs that hurt and disorient pilots at the critical moment when they're taking off from a carrier.
The Pentagon's red team found the problem was due to several factors central to the plane's design, and recommended several fixes that will take several months to several years to fully fix. The report states that long term actions to address the problem will not take place until 2019, at which point they'll take 12-36 months to implement.
Redesigns to the plane, as well as to carriers, may be necessary to fully address the problem.
A Pentagon deficiency report in 2015 stated that extreme movements in the cockpit during launch risked pilot health.
One hundred and five pilots completing catapult launches rated their level of pain or discomfort on a scale of one to five. Of the 105, 74 pilots reported "moderate" pain or a 3, 18 pilots reported "severe" pain or a 4, and one pilot reported "severe pain that persists" after launching from an aircraft carrier. (end of excerpt)
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