Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Times They Are A-Changin'

In case you missed it, the F-35C, AKA the Joint Strike Fighter, AKA the Lightning II, made its first Carrier landing the other day.

It's not the size of the tailhook that matters.

I suppose it's a little interesting in that our oldest Nuke boat (I guess Nuke is redundant now,) the USS Nimitz, was the chosen platform to test our newest jet.  Luckily, the bird didn't land like the callsign of the F-35C's Test Pilot- CDR Tony "Brick" Wilson, as he effortlessly guided it in with nary a wobble to snag an OK-3 Wire.  

I went into war on that boat so I'm happy to see that Chez Chet got to be the first.

Here's a similar video, with some different footage:

Good view from a chase plane in part of this video (:20 and :47). Several more iterations of this test over the next couple of weeks are planned, including launching.

You want some more?  I'm here to oblige.  F-35B Video- the B stands for Badass Marine variant:

Ooh, jet video and sunset!

This is all well and good.  I like to see the future arriving, even if it's just a glimpse.  The jets don't actually hit the boat for real until 2018.  The F-35 won't be replacing the current jets, as it'll be operating alongside F/A-18 Hornets, Rhinos and Growlers for the foreseeable future.

The landing really is is some good news, historic actually.  I remember when the Super Hornet made it's first landing as well, back in 2001.  LCDR Frank Morley, an NROTC Classmate of mine had that honor.

While the eventual fielding of that aircraft (the bill) led to the demise of my own beloved Viking (the bill-payer), the E, F, and G variants have proven their worth to the Strike Group, and I expect the Lightning will do the same. However, similar to the developmental problems and resulting fiscal constraints forced on Naval Aviation by the Super Hornet, the F-35 is also very late and terribly expensive.  My first girlfriend was the same way on our dates!

"The F-36 was developed at a cost of nearly $400 billion so far and beset for years by cost overruns and delays. The plane's primary contractor, Lockheed Martin, puts the cost of each F-35C -- the most expensive of the three versions -- at $116 million, not including the engine."

Pratt & Whitney makes that part of the jet, at the low low price of $1 Billion, that's Billion with a great big capital B, for 48 of 'em.  We couldn't have gotten some sort of bulk discount?  Hey! Veteran's Day is coming up- can we get a 10% discount like at Home Depot, or some other deal, like the free Bloomin' Onion at Outback?

"The Pentagon ultimately wants more than 2,400 of the fighter jets, while hundreds more are expected over time to go to allies such as South Korea, Japan and Australia." 

Lockheed claims that the price has fallen over 50% since initial contracts were let.  So we've got that going for us! But 50% of way too damn expensive is still way to damn expensive.

But I'm being quite the buzz-killer today aren't I?  It's a great week, even without the GOP taking back the Senate.  The JSF has just made history, not doing anything spectacular now mind you, just doing what it's supposed to do- land on the boat.  The bar will get higher, with the testing of actual mission systems.  Every carrier-based jet has to have its first landing and on Monday it did.  No catapult launches yet.  There was some sort of problem, so that part of the test is delayed.  I guess they'll have to crane it off at North Island.  Maybe I'll go down to the base and see it up close.  However unfortunate that delay is, the jet got to spend a nice night on the boat, which allowed this picture to be taken, and if you've followed some of my "Something Completely Different" posts, you know how much I love the sunset jet pics.

How about some more?  

Ooh, a jet, sunset, AND burner!  The google images jet-trifecta!

I'm sure we'll see lots of good things come out of the JSF, including bombs and missiles.  It was great to see it hit the boat this week, but the most positive aspect might be getting people to stop posting this video to my Facebook page asking if it's real!

Update:  Best footage yet- with Cat-Shots!


  1. Okay, I have to fess up right away that I'm not a big fan of the F-35. No internal gun, piss poor visibility aft and it costs way too damn much.

    But it does fly and I can't really sustain any dislike for something which flies. But it is kinda funny looking.

    All that being said, great post Tuna!

  2. "...they'll have to crane it off at North Island..."

    Brings to mind a scene from a stopover in Yokosuka, back when we all (except the Nimitz) burned NSFO.
    One of the bird farms (I think it was the Ticonderoga) was in port, too.
    They just fired up the steam cat and launched one.
    I can't remember whether it was an F8 or an A4.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I think the E-2 and the dearly departed S-3 were the only birds they could launch without excess end-speed. VS-33 shot two off in the harbor during Fleet Week several years back.

    3. In 1971 Saratoga suffered an engineering casualty and flooding during a port visit at Piraeus, Greece. She was tango uniform for weeks. Because of NATO commitments they had to get the airwing deployed to Soudha Bay, Rota and Sig, so on August 16 they shot 53 aircraft while the boat was on the hook. Phantoms, Intruders, Corsairs, Hummers and Trackers. Paul Gillcrist was CAG and tells the tale in his memoir "Feet Wet." On the shoulders of giants stuff.

  3. My first boat.
    In the first still I saw of this event, with the jet at the 90, the bright white paint inside the motor made it look like he was in burner.
    In 1980 a brand new F-14A-115-GR cost $35 million, or about $100 million in 2014 bucks. It didn't do ASW either. IIRC in 1980 a new A-7E cost $9.5 million, about $28 million in 2014. Apples and oranges. Or maybe apples and pears. Interesting to think about.

    Thanks for posting!

  4. Great vids... we enjoyed 'em.

  5. It's what we're going to fight with for the foreseeable future. Get it thru the process, make it better, build a replacement. Had a long chat (Miramar Air Show) with the pilots of the Marine squadron flying it out of Yuma. They were pretty much very happy with what they have. I covered most of what was being written negatively about the bird but they stuck by it.

  6. The test sensors for the cat shot weren't working. They got that figgered out and shot her off the pointy end.

    1. Thanks for the update. I'm still glad to have seen the sunset pic.

  7. Finally! :-) Now if they can get the software working...

  8. I have to blame the USMC for insisting on a by now non-existent requirement for a VSTOL capability which compromised everything from weight, CG placement, fuel tanks (the worst possible from an attack birds pov) and on and on...FAR, FAR better if they had purchased the planned full build-out of the F-22.. An overpriced, under-performing bird too expensive to take/risk the sort of high losses in the roles it is supposed to perform against peer competitors..

  9. I worked for this lady when I was in the 7th grade at Thompson Junior High in Newport, RI. Sponsor (Christened): Catherine Nimitz Lay, Newport, R.I., eldest daughter of FADM Chester W. Nimitz. She gave me the complete commissioning launching package for the ship including a First Day Cover. It's interesting, to me, that this flighty bird is being launched off the oldest carrier in the fleet. I remember it as such a sprightly beast. Not bad for a 42 year old capital ship. CONSTITUTION has a couple of centuries on her, but nowhere near the mileage.

    VX can only imagine the stealth of a wooden sailing ship sneaking into foreign waters with a deckload of USMC F35s launching off the coast to attack inland targets...leaving a towering pillar of flame behind them as the old wooden ship burned. :)

    1. HAR, HAR, Curtis, with full bomb-load and in pure vertical t.o. mode there will barely be enough gas left to get it 50 feet inland--IF it makes it that far before it flames out. Give it a combat radius of 100 ft MAX in the vert t.o. mode fully loaded, lol :)

    2. Well, ok, I exaggerate some, make it 100 yards..


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