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Prior Planning Prevents…

Now, I’m not the world’s greatest planner – I’ll say that right out front.  But then again, nobody ever gave me the responsibility of developing a new fighter/attack jet for the USAF, USMC, USN, and several other nations.  Right now, I’ll bet the U.S. Navy is wishing they’d done a bit more planning when it comes to the F-35 Lightning II AKA the Joint Strike Fighter.  You see, you just can’t carry enough supplies for an entire deployment even on a ship as large as an aircraft carrier.  Carriers at sea rely on supplies delivered by boat and by air.  Things like jet engines.  And that’s where the goof up apparently happened.

From the Navy Times:

JSF engine too big for regular transport at sea

By William H. McMichael – Staff writer

Posted : Wednesday Dec 1, 2010 8:14:50 EST

The naval variant of the military’s fighter jet of the future arrived at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., on Nov. 6, a development that means the Navy and its industry partners are satisfied that the jet can safely perform basic flight maneuvers and is ready to tackle more demanding tests.

Behind the scenes, however, the Navy is struggling to remedy a significant design oversight that poses a major potential hindrance to its ability to successfully deploy and maintain the F-35C Lightning II, the carrier-based variant of the joint strike fighter: Its powerful single engine, when packed for shipping, is too large to be transported to sea by normal means when replacements are required.

Yeah, that might be just a little bit of a headache.  When I first read this, I immediately thought of something out of the pages of naval aviation history.

LT James Flatley, LCDR W. “Smokey” Stovall, ADR1 Ed Brennan, Al Sieve, and Lockheed test pilot Ted Limmer showed that the C-130 could operate off of a carrier deck if needed back in October of 1963.  If you don’t want to watch the video, you can read about it here or just search for the info on Google.  The KC-130 was modified by installing an anti-skid braking system, removing the refueling pods under the wings, and fitting a smaller orifice in the nose gear suspension.  The only modification made to the carrier was a special line that was painted down the center line to assist in lineup.

Call me crazy (you wouldn’t be the first), but I think that if the F-35 is really going to go to sea, the idea of using the C-130 Hercules for COD may have to be resurrected.


13 comments to Prior Planning Prevents…

  • ORPO1 Glenn

    And it may cause the F/A-18E/F line in St. Louis to keep chugging along. I read about this at Flight Global and Air-Attack. Nice idea. Somewhat bigger and beefier than the Alpha and Bravo versions. I see two of the “A’s” on a regular basis here in the Mojave.
    If McDonnell-Douglas(Boeing) is doing a stealthier version of the F-15 which is a proven airframe, why can’t they do the same with the Rhino? Perhaps the Special Products boys at Saint Louis Lambert Field are doing that right now. But that single engine thing with it’s usual advantages in some circumstances is now becoming an albatross around the neck.
    Just for historical interest, the F-4 that the Navy selected back in the late fifties to be the next carrier fleet air defense fighter won on two counts over the F8U-3 Crusader. Two engines and two guys. The F8 out flew the Phantom. The proverbial rings around it kind of thing.
    I am interested in how the F-35C will do aboard ship. It is physically bulkier than the Super Hornet. Almost on a scale of the Tom Kitty.

  • ORPO1 Glenn

    And as for the Herk on deck. It was on Coral Sea, if I remember my history. Jim Flatley was later CAG 7 on Independence when I was aboard. This was in the mid seventies. He also set a record for arrested landings, I do believe. He retired as a Vice Admiral.

  • Kath

    Plus, I love “significant design oversight”. Duh. I wonder which lowly peon is getting blamed for this “oversight”?

    • And that is the multi-billion dollar question, Kath.

      • kc

        A peon may get the initial blame for oversight, but we all know this is a screw-up of proportion that must mean POLITICIANS are involved. Getting their precious funding, all the guys in uniform (all “successful” officers are Politicians) are gonna skew numbers and have perfect answers for everything some political appointee dweeb asks them. The wonks have no expertise of ANY sort, so they trust those who are supposedly ‘expert.’ They sell these pigs in pokes to their CongressWeasel, who promised to fight for his constiuents’ FAIR SHARE of tax money to be spent on them (because the more pork he brings home, the more votes he gets), and viola – a plane that can’t do the damn job it was supposedly designed to do.

        But they got their MONEY, dammit, and THAT is Priority One.

  • The mind boggles on the engine screw-up.

    • Couldn’t have said it better.

    • ORPO1 Glenn

      Beginning to think improvements on the Rhino are a good thing. The F/A-35 is taking the teething problems that it is having to an entirely new level. About on par with the A-12 Avenger back around 1990 or so. And SecDef Cheney cancelled that one before the prototype was ever built.
      We called it the Dorito.

  • Wild Fly – Mirage F1 Low Level in Chad…

    I found your entry interesting thus I’ve added a Trackback to it on my aviation video blog :)…

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