Author Topic: When F-35 pilots most need performance, the aircraft becomes erratic  (Read 2065 times)


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When US Navy and Marine F-35 pilots most need performance, the aircraft becomes erratic
By: David B. Larter

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy’s and Marine Corps’ F-35s become unpredictable to handle when executing the kind of extreme maneuvers a pilot would use in a dogfight or while avoiding a missile, according to documents exclusively obtained by Defense News.

Specifically, the Marine short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing variant and the Navy’s carrier-launched version become difficult to control when the aircraft is operating above a 20-degree angle of attack, which is the angle created by the oncoming air and the leading edge of the wing.

Pilots reported the aircraft experiencing unpredictable changes in pitch, as well as erratic yaw and rolling motions. The documents identify the issue as a category 1 deficiency and define it as something that limits the aircraft’s performance in such a way that it can’t accomplish its “primary or alternate mission(s).” In this scale, category 1 represents the most serious type of deficiency.

A Lockheed Martin executive told Defense News in a statement that he expects the issue to be resolved or downgraded soon as a result of software fixes.

“We’ve implemented an update to the flight control system that is planned for integration in the third quarter of this year — and we expect this item to be resolved or downgraded,” said Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager of the company’s F-35 program.

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