F-35B makes first landing at sea

F-35B makes first landing at sea

The Marine Corps’ F-35B Lightning II made its first landing Monday aboard a Navy warship at sea, the service announced. The hop apparently was uneventful and the landing, aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp, went exactly as predicted.

Per the Navy’s statement: “Marine Corps test pilot Lt. Col. Fred Schenk landed BF-2 at 3:12 pm. “It was exactly like we predicted,” said Schenk. “But that’s because of all the hard work and extensive preparation done by the Wasp and JSF team.”

Now the next step is taking off. And landing again. And taking off again. And making the operation of the B on the deck of an amphibious ship into the routine it must become in order to take the place of the Navy and Marines’ current routine with the AV-8B Harrier.

Continued the Navy:

The first vertical landing is part of the initial ship trials for the F-35B which started Monday and is expected to last two weeks. The tests are scheduled to collect data on the aircraft’s ability to perform short take-offs and vertical landings on a ship at sea, as well as determine how the aircraft integrates with the ship’s landing systems, and deck and hangar operations. This test period, the first of three scheduled at-sea test periods over the course of the development program, will also collect environmental data on the deck through added instrumentation to measure the F-35B’s impact to flight deck operations.

That’s right — as you’ve already read, program officials believe these tests are as much about the ship as they are about the aircraft. But don’t think this isn’t also about the B, of course: It’s been on “probation,” pending a big performance turnaround, and the Marines and Lockheed hope a successful set of trials aboard the Wasp will convince the principal to wipe clean its permanent record.

In real terms, as we’ve seen, “probation” was the inverse of President Kennedy’s “quarantine” of Cuba: “Quarantine” was a lighter euphemism for “blockade” — which is an internationally recognized act of war — just as “probation” was a heavy euphemism for “We’ve got to say something to get these reporters and skeptics off our back.” The Marines, like the Air Force, have no alternative but to pursue the F-35. Cancellation is not an option. So with a warning such as “probation,” the Pentagon hoped it could convince outsiders it was cracking down without the threat of actually ending the dance here, giving engineers the time they needed to resolve the B’s problems.

Department leaders have resisted confirming whether successful sea trials would be enough to lift the “probation” euphemism — but they certainly couldn’t hurt.

Here’s a Navy video of the F-35B making its first landing.

Join the Conversation

The B Goes to Sea! We will all learn whether this jet is the real deal or not. Suffice it to say that the results will be broadcast far and wide regardless of the outcome. And that is the way it should be.

I saw this video linked from another site last night just a few hours after the landing occurred.

Three cheers to the Navy, Marines and DoD for getting good news out quickly. Hopefully they will be as forthcoming about setbacks as well.

The B version is actually worth the money needed. A and C are not needed, thats what the F22 and F18 are for.

If the A isn’t needed, what are you replacing over a thousand F-16s with?


Perhaps the threat of cancellation was the kick in the ass needed for the program to get its act together. But then again, I won’t pretend to be an expert on this when I’m not.
If they can turn this program around, I’m all for it. Good luck and I hope the testing goes well.

Congrats F-35 program on a successful landing. Wish you well and hope to get a program turnaround and completion of all program reqts within the original baseline budget.

As stated much of this testing is about the ship. A question I have is did the USN/LM build a special “heavy-duty” STOVL/VTOL landing pad on the USS Wasp for these tests? Or is this the stock pad that’s used for Harrier landings outfitted with test instruments?

What was the condition of the F-35B conducting the tests? Did it have a full fuel load at take off and what was its weight at landing? When will we see the aircraft hauling realistic weapons loads during testing? Was this a full systems aircraft or one of the test mules with just basic avionics? Will the aircraft need special maintenance before flying again as in worn or damaged vertical lift systems?

As always with press releases on the F-35, there’s very little content on what’s actually occurring and critical details are missing.

Out of question,F-35/A /B/C will dominate the sky and fighter market in the era of Network Centric Warfare. They will make low-quality Euro fighters and Russian fighters meaningless.BTW,F-35 is much too important than F-22 on EA and ISR which play a key role against global high-end threats such as CCP-owned China.

Easy answer; keep the 16 line open, take the D model; boost it with AESA and Thrust-Vectoring and give it canards. This will make it competitive against a Rafale. This will give us a better cost platform to recapitalize the fleet until there is money to build a better platform than the 22.

that sounds awesome.

ROTGL! Its not quite as simple to “scab” things on an aircraft as it is with an erector set. An AESA is a good thing, but an AESA with the very limited aperture possible in the F-16s tiny little nose cone might not be the most impressive AESA that you’ve ever seen! And as for thrust vectoring… The F-16 is just not really a low speed airframe, and as long as it has airspeed it can already generate more G’s than the pilot can take, so… why add what you could never really use? And canards? Why, particuarly when the carnards and vectored thrust would require pretty much a total re-write of the flight control software.…. Hmmmmm…. .

I guess Im just being picky…but.… zero fatigue cycle, Block 70 airframes would be pretty nice all by themselves!

Hmmm…. did you perhaps get cookies to go with the koolaid? :-)

How is it cheaper to add canards and thrust vectoring to an aircraft that was never designed for it? That would require a MAJOR redesign of the aircraft’s wing structure and flight controls… this isn’t even talking about the fact that lack of maneuverability isn’t something the F-16 suffers from. F-22’s don’t do what F-16’s do… they’re replacing the F-15. Also, AESA is not a magic silver bullet… equipping an aircraft with a new radar doesn’t make a 5th gen fighter.

BF-02 is one of the EMD test A/C. I’m sure they will do tests with ballast to simulate weapon loads first, then do the real thing, but that’s a little ways off. It shouldn’t need any special maintenance other than what they already do after flying. Landing weight is whatever is specified in the NATOPS flight manual.

It looks like the same deck that’s been on the boat since forever and hasn’t been modified, but I’m also sure they have something to measure the heat coming onto it.

Does that answer your questions?

LOL heck no did u expect it to be good enough? If you actually responded to his questions most of your responses would be “I don’t know.” His last statement is right on the money.

ROFL!!!! It doesn’t need to be competitive against a Rafale. Jesus, sometimes it’s like I can feel the IQ points dribbling out of my ears just by reading some of the comments here. Here’s a clue: the Rafale’s “competitiveness” is dubious at best today. Give it another 20–30 years and it will be hopelessly outclassed.

Alrighty then…

By what data are you drawing these conclusions? It’s amazing that people believe they can come to conclusions and claim certain knowledge when there is simply very little fact to support claims. Limited and biased computer simulations and small scale exercises are a step in the right direction, but can also be disastrously misleading. Data such as the F-15’s 100+ aerial combat victories is the real deal. Another whopper is when people compare performance characteristics of fighter’s one on one as the basis for their investment decision making. There is so much more to logistics, strategy, and warfare which gets lost in these discussions. For all our investment in elite tactical aircraft technology, has it made a difference in our ability to decisively win in the “full spectrum” of conflicts which is DoD’s requirement? Evidence: Iraq, Afghanistan. Conclusion: NO. Cripes even from a deterrence perspective tactical aircraft’s lion share of the pie has detracted from other systems that truly provide strategic deterrence, and thus, economic and national security.

LOL! I think that the “ballast” will be called “inert weapons/stores”! Its just too easy! :-)

They actually have weights that go in place of the stores for the EMD aircraft to simulate the weapons load, but I’ll just STFU now…

You are right; but by starting with a super-critical air-frame that already (based on tested at Dryden in the 80s) demonstrated a high likelyhood they could be manueverability, such as would be needed to face off against other aircraft using multi-access thrustvectoring.

Now AESA isn’t the silver bullet; but it is a huge improvement over current hardware; and while nothing is putting out the power of the AWG-9, it still gives us a good jump. Now IRST would be even better; but we are seriously lacking there compared to the Ruskies

But in not purchasing more 22’s, we lose the advantage the 16s gave us and the 35 is expected to pick up in gross numbers. Just as the 14 was the long range defense of a carrier while the A-7 or eventually 18 carried the strike load; now the 18 or the 35 will be tasked to do both Defense and Strike.

If we are stuck with one 200 or so 22s, then we need to shore up the AirDef task; and the 35 flying against say a Chavez or Mubarak with new SU/MIG class aircraft.

Don’t discount the working idea; not saying the Aero-engineers wouldn’t have a fit about it; but don’t discount a good airframe and say it can’t go further.

Or maybe it’s where it was going to be all along, but the people whose political careers depended on wildly optimistic cost and schedule estimates refused to believe that.

The FDA currently investigating the LM flavored Koolaid for huge amounts of Hallucinogenics found in it, and the strange effects it has on some people :-)

Out of curiosity, what flavor of Koolaid is Saab serving up these days?

Why its Koolaid that arrives on schedule, costs less then projected, requires no PowerPoint snake-oil and works as advertised.

MMMMM… Taste’s good! Why don’t you try some?


WAY too sugary for me! :-) When and if I drink it, my troubled conscience, and high blood sugar, keeps me up all night! LOL!

Pretty airplane though! :-) http://​www​.boeing​.com/​d​e​f​e​n​s​e​-​s​p​a​c​e​/​m​i​l​i​t​a​r​y​/​f​15/
Just put the subtitle “History in the making.…” on this one! :-)

Totally impossible to meet the original baseline budget EVEN IF all design/build/test activities come in under original estimates because Congress has continually rescheduled and delayed funding from the first year of the program on. What that does AT A MINIMUM is cause additional costs to replan the program every single time that congress changes the budget. The program as contracted was a multiyear (actually multi decade) effort that included all of the different efforts involved. That extremely complex effort had thousands of dependencies, things that had to be done before the next one started. Every time that you stretch out a task, it pushes back everything after it.

A delay in approving a budget for the year can push back efforts funded with that year’s money on a day for day basis.

Add years to the program due to funding issues (or program difficulties) and the support functions like Quality Assurance, General Management, etc all have to be supported (paid) for the additional years which also increases the cost and on many programs, that can be 10% of the cost, especially during the design and introduction phase.

Landing Pad?
Its called the Ship’s Deck. The flight decks have handled Harriers for years and that is not an easy aircraft due to the heat it puts on the deck.

I hear ya on the funding frustrations. However, keep in mind that every other program in the federal government has operated in the same environment and for the most part have managed not to grow from $233 to $380B (+ and counting), have their MS B rescinded, and not come anywhere close to meeting IOC. Or when they do blow it, they get killed (FCS). Shame on DoD for thinking they could pull off something this big and risky. We need to stop planning programs that take 10+ years for development, and depending on “too big to fail” to keep programs alive. Too much risk. Set sights lower. Learn how to keep OSD, OMB, GAO, media, Congress, and the public happy. Recognize programmatic & political reality before it kills us.

On target.

I’ve been in the Naval Government Acquisition business for 35+ years please tell me how to keep OSD, OMB, GAO, Media, Congress, the services and the public happy. (VBG) Everything we’ve tried in those 35+ years hasn’t worked.

Throwing rocks is much easier than building roads (and I think that EE perhaps would be a tad less shrill and certain if he considered that.)

No one can guarantee with certainty that all those stakeholders will be happy. However, there are patterns of behavior and there are some leaders who obviously have had better results than others. Integrity & transparency are two valuable behaviors. As far as acquisition goes, many people have been begging DoD for year after year and after failed program after program to lower the bar on requirements to the realistic & achievable and avoid getting into hopeless constrained situations. I have posted my proposed strategy for effective risk management many times on DoDBuzz and it goes like this. MDAPs are no place for risky technology development, as the integration, oversight, life cycle management, programmatic, and political complexities are tough enough challenges. DoD needs to develop new risky technologies as commodities that can be integrated into MDAPs later on if and after they have been proven operationally available. For MDAPs, integrate the current state of ready technologies. DoD should pursue more technology demonstrations and use more competetive prototyping. Design programs with cost & schedule baselines as KPPs. We currently have unbounded and unattainable performance KPPs, the resulting impact on cost & schedule is predictable.

There are many documented best practices that DoD (& rest of govt DoD is not alone) does not implement. The culture is bad. The wrong people are in the wrong leadership positions. Their faith in bureaucratic solutions, reorganizations, and the latest fad methodologies is saddening. If you have the wrong leadership, and the wrong concepts, you are doomed to failure, and unlikely to produce results that make people happy, as evidenced by your 35 years of suffering, for which I thank you for your service.

Shrill is your opinion, and what’s wrong with being shrill anyway? The British thought the colonists were shrill. Would we be better off if people just kept their mouths shut and ignored everything? please.. this is a public forum this is what this is for. And I build plenty of “roads” that you are not aware of and certainly do not appreciate either.

Why can’t the USAF & the USNAF both use the “C” model. This was done years ago with the F4H/F4B. If it can land and be catapulted off a CV it darn sure take off and land on a landing strip on land.

Congratulations to the pilot that was flying the damn thing. If it took em’ this long to get the F-35 out there, there must’ve been some issues taggin’ along. Poor guy was probably shitting his pants through the entire landing. lol

You never know, maybe you’ll get some failures to drool over.

Powerpoint snake oil? Everybody uses Powerpoint, even Saab! It’s a curse nobody can escape. New F-16 variants could do the same and they’re already in production, yet they’d still be inferior to the F-35.

I was wondering why the Air Force couldn’t use the B or C variant as well? Problem with all Air Force fighters is that if you take out those long runways, you pretty much take out the fighters. They should be looking at short field or vertical take off capability for all future fighters.

I hear you — using your proposed strategy for risk management, how would you have done the F-35 program, considering what the constraints were in the late 90’s when many of the concepts for the program were solidified.

On your latest comment, there are many best practices that DoD does implement, and I can’t believe we haven’t had some good leadership in the past 35+ yrs, so why don’t we have more successes? (maybe we do, but they are on “smaller” programs that fly under the radar and just do what they are supposed to do.

The pilot has trained long and hard on both simulators and over land practicing for the ship board landing, so I’m sure he was very confident on making his landing

thank you Sir. I believe DoD’s acquisition process & regs are basically sound, of course nothing is perfect. The problem is that the process is never even given a fair chance to work because it is subverted by political corruption. In the case of F-35, at one point an AoA was required. Generally AoAs in govt are done “after the fact” and used to justify a predetermined decision. A legitimate, objective AoA would identify viable courses of action, and costs and benefits, or perhaps more appropriately military utility, for each COA. Uncertainty & Risk for each COA CAN be measured by the Monte Carlo Simulation technique, something we have had since WW2 but due to our cultural mathematical innumeracy, is underutilized. The actual costs of the F-35 program we are now realizing were entirely predictable.

Tech development is riducluously risky, even in a well managed program. The amount of uncertainty should be reduced as a program matures and verified knowledge replaces the “unknowns”. If done right you have a much better chance of converging to realistic actuals. Other smart risk management practices, such as diversification and use of contingencies, are also underutilized. All of this smart practice can only be implemented in a culture that values wisdom. It takes leadership to develop culture. You also have to be able to admit mistakes, bad decisions, and change COAs as necessary. Burnside didn’t have to keep sending brigade after brigade to certain death at Fredericksburg, Lee did not have to commit to Pickett’s charge, and they could have ordered retreats much earlier. Boyd’s OODA loop applies here, you need to constantly get in new information, and adjust course, and you need to be faster than your adversaries.


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