Milestone PLANK Owner First F-35C Arrest NIMITZ 03 Nov 2014

Production milestones, roll-outs, test flights, service introduction and other milestones.
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Unread post20 Sep 2015, 17:01

2015 VX-23 LCDR Daniel “Tonto” Kitts

"...F-35C Carrier Suitability
The F-35C completed initial sea trials from November 3-14, 2014 aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68). The at-sea test event was the culmination of a year of shore based test operations at the TC-7 and MK-7 catapult and arresting gear site at NAS Patuxent River as well as at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. At sea, the F-35C accomplished 124 arrested landings, 222 touch and gos, zero one wires and zero unintentional bolters. (The team conducted two hook-down intentional bolters as part of the DT-I test plan.) The F-35C demonstrated exceptional performance both in the air and on the flight deck, accelerating the team’s progress through the DT-I schedule and achieving 100 percent of the threshold test points three days early. Test pilots flew approaches in three different approach modes (Manual, Approach Power Compensation (APC), and Delta Flight Path (DFP)). Handling qualities in all three approach modes were excellent. DFP is a new approach mode that allows the pilot to directly command a glideslope. The test team characterized the performance of DFP as an enhancing characteristic of the airplane. In fact, test pilots and engineers credited the F-35’s DFP technology with significantly reducing pilot workload during the approach to the carrier, increasing safety margins during carrier approaches and reducing touchdown dispersion. Calling the aircraft a three-wire machine, they noted that the F-35C was very good at flying behind the ship, that the flight control system was precise, stable, responsive and delivered carefree handling in all flight regimes, and they predicted that future Fleet pilots would be able to correct any deviations quickly and accurately.

Since the aircraft flew very well behind the ship, the test team decided to conduct night ops — an unheard of feat during the first at sea period of any naval aircraft since the F-4 era. They conducted multiple approaches, two hook-down passes, and two traps. However, due to the quality of the image in the Helmet Mounted Display (HMD), they delayed further night operations until the second at sea developmental test period (DT-II). The improved image quality of the new GEN III helmet HMD release will enable upcoming night carrier landings during DT-II. Overall, DT-I was an extremely successful effort, proving the sea worthiness of the F-35C and developing a large amount of the initial Aircraft Launch and Recovery Bulletins...."

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