U.S.

August 16, 2012

Yuma gets a Sneak Peek at the Future JSF

Tags:
Story by Capt. Staci Reidinger
Photos by Lockheed Martin

The late Steve Jobs said it best: “Most of the time, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Well, after taking a tour of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft factory in Ft. Worth, Texas, I believe yet another advancement in aviation is about to grace Yuma’s presence that will make us wonder for many years to come how it came to be.

As we entered Lockheed Martin’s facility, a chronological timeline dating back to the 1980s detailed the history of the F-35 program and explained the significance of developing a joint aircraft based on a common airframe structure. The U.S. Air Force variant of the F-35 is labeled as the “A” model and is designed as a conventional take-off and landing craft; the U.S. Marine Corps variant is the “B” model and features a short takeoff/vertical landing capability that allows the aircraft to land on austere roads, runways and ship decks; and the U.S. Navy variant is the “C” model which is capable of taking off and landing on aircraft carriers. All variants are capable of reaching Mach 1.6 and are built with stealth and integrated information and sensor fusion.

The next portion of the tour opened our eyes to the amount of precision work required to construct the electrical, mechanical and structural elements of the F-35. The inside of the facility reminded me of a sterile hospital with bright florescent lights, shiny waxed floors, perfectly displayed tools at arm’s reach and smock-dressed employees all paying close care and attention to their specific portion of the plane. As if I were watching a doctor perform surgery on a patient, the experts working on the F-35s showed the same amount of precision and quality assurance. And, many of their workspaces proudly adorned the American Flag and pictures of their children serving in the military.

As we approached the first aircraft under construction, the guide pointed out a sign that displayed an American flag with the label, “BF – Yuma.” Wow, this is really happening. After several years of seeing this aircraft in videos, articles and photos and hearing the Department of the Navy make a decision to make MCAS Yuma the first F-35B operational squadron in the Marine Corps, it’s now marked for Yuma and on the assembly line!

We continued to pass many F-35Bs slated for Yuma in all levels of construction as well as U.S. Air Force F-35As and U.S. Navy F-35Cs. From afar they look similar because of the lime green and white paper skins covering the aircraft but we soon discovered on the flightline what sets these aircraft apart.

Both the A- and B-model F-35s share a wing area of 460 square feet, while the C model sports a span of 668 square feet. The B model alone has a vertical thrust of 40,000 pounds that allows it to take off and land vertically while the C model has the heaviest weight empty at approximately 35,000 pounds. Also, all three models are capable of carrying in excess of 12,000 pounds of weapons and each tote a 25mm cannon. With a naked eye, you can tell the Corps’ B variant apart from the A and C models because of a lift system that rotates at the back of the aircraft downward and a compartment that opens behind the cockpit to engage the shaft-driven propulsion system.

Climbing a ladder to get a look at an F-35 cockpit, I was amazed at the design and functionality of the displays and net-enabled operations. My mind quickly wandered back to the control knobs, switches and displays of the AV-8B Harrier and instantly realized that this cockpit is well beyond what we currently have in operations today. This new aircrafts integrated operating systems will allow the pilot to navigate, perform reconnaissance, seek out and destroy enemies in the air, on land and sea that combines the abilities of the Marine Corps’ current fixed wing aircraft – the AV-8B Harrier, F/A-18 Hornet and the EA-6B Prowler.

What an amazing opportunity to see the F-35 under production and testing! I didn’t imagine there would be another occasion to get a behind the scenes look at this airplane before it arrives to Yuma but a few days after my return, I stepped in to the state of the art F-35 flight simulator. Nearing completion across the street from the MCAS Yuma Gas Station and Gym, the flight simulation building is designed to provide pilots with realistic flight operations practice under different training conditions. In many ways, the simulator is as important as the arrival of the aircraft itself. Well, almost!

MCAS Yuma is slated to receive its first F-35B by the end of 2012. As MCAS Yuma continues to transform in to one of the most advanced aviation training and operations facilities in the Marine Corps, the local community will be offered a rare chance to watch the AV-8B Harrier and the F-35B JSF in action. As the only two short take off/vertical landing aircraft in the U.S. Department of Defense, this occasion will mark another glorious historical milestone in the advancement of military aviation.

As MCAS Yuma continues to transform in to one of the most advanced aviation training and operations facilities in the Marine Corps, the local community will be offered a rare chance to watch the AV-8B Harrier and the F-35B JSF in action. As the only two short take off/vertical landing aircraft in the U.S. Department of Defense, this occasion will mark another glorious historical milestone in the advancement of military aviation. Who knows, maybe the Harrier will have a trick or two to teach the new kid on the block. We’ll have to wait and see.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
sterling-yuma

Sterling Global Operations completes U.S. Navy project to clear munitions, firing range and target debris from Arizona Marine Corps Air Station range

Sterling Global Operations, Inc., in a two-year project for the U.S. Navy, removed or recycled some 5.9 million pounds of munitions, firing range and target debris from Marine Corps Air Station at Yuma, Ariz. Sterling Global re...
 
 

US Army, Raytheon achieve first inflight lethal intercept of low quadrant elevation rocket

YUMA PROVING GROUND, Ariz. – Raytheon successfully intercepted and destroyed a low quadrant elevation 107mm rocket as part of the second series of guided test vehicle flight tests of the Accelerated Improved Intercept Initiative program. The intercept is a major test milestone before the U.S. Army live-fire engagements begin in September. “Beginning only 18 months...
 
 

Raytheon, U.S. Army complete first AI3 guided flight test series

Raytheon and the U.S. Army successfully completed the first guided test vehicle flight series of the Accelerated Improved Intercept Initiative program at Yuma Proving Ground, Aris. The series consisted of two flight tests against different target profiles. In each case after launch, the interceptor initially guided on in-flight radio frequency datalink updates from the fire...
 

 

New Navy vessel named after Yuma

The U.S. Navy has decided to name one of their newest Joint High-Speed Vessels after the city of Yuma, Ariz., forming an even deeper bond between the local community and our military. Political officials from the state of Arizona and the city of Yuma were informed of the decision by the Honorable Ray Mabus, Secretary...
 
 
DoD

Joint Strike Fighter on track, costs coming down, Kendall says

Indications are that the F-35 joint strike fighter program — the most expensive aviation program in Defense Department history — is on track, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics told a Senate panel June 19. Testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee this morning, Frank Kendall said the F-35 will be...
 
 
DoD
WEBarmy-jltv2

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle ‘closes capability gap,’ Army says

While the Humvee has served the Army well for some 25 years, there’s a “capability gap” in what it can do for warfighters on a 21st-century battlefield, said the Soldier responsible for overseeing its replacem...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin