Feb 7, 2014
US Navy F-35 Set For Sea Trials After Tailhook Redesign
The naval version of the F-35 is due to start flight tests on an aircraft carrier at sea in October after Lockheed Martin have fixed the tailhook used to arrest the plane's landing on a ship's deck.
Lockheed was forced to redesign the tailhook after a test plane successfully landed 36 times with the new version during trials on land.
The problems with the tailhook and a pricey new pilot helmet had become symbolic of broader issues with the F-35 program as the complexity of trying to develop three different models simultaneously with a high level of shared parts led to a cascade of technical problems and cost overruns.
Lockheed and its partners on the F-35 program are looking to remove risks from the F-35C in the face an intense lobbying battle with Boeing Co., which wants the Navy to buy more of its F/A-18 planes, the mainstay of the U.S. Navy's existing carrier-based aircraft fleet.
The Pentagon plans to order 340 F-35Cs, 240 for the Navy and another 80 for the Marine Corps. The Navy aims to have its first squadron of jets ready to fly by early 2019, though a Pentagon watchdog last month cast doubt on whether the short-takeoff and landing version of the jet--known as the F-35B--would be ready for the Marines as planned by mid-2015. The U.S. Air Force is due to reach so-called "initial operational capability" with its F-35s in 2016.